On Structura, a new EP from Toronto based artist Shanika Maria – aka Shn Shn – creates a compelling and hypnotic collection of songs that contemplates hope and identity at a crisis point. A queer, black creator straddling worlds between ambient music, experimental beat-making and avant-pop songwriting, Structura offers a deep reflection of embracing multiple personal and musical identities and finding peace in the inflection points between them.
In these tracks Shn Shn pulls from lush ambient music that fills rooms and headphones with reverb heavy tonal meditations, sly arpeggios that find purchase in the cracks between the surface noise, intuitive beat patterns and live instrumentation that invites the listener down the rabbit hole of bottomless production.
Shn Shn’s voice, however, takes commanding leads on track like “essence” where her voice floats in above a low cloud ceiling of heavily processed guitars, drone and a subdued beat pattern. There is a sense of finality on this track. The sense that one revolution is turning over and a new spin of the wheel is about begin. A chance to choose between surrendering to old patterns or creating wholly new ones. “essence” recalls artists like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Kelly Lee Owens in their searching but confident delivery above an utterly compelling composition. Shn Shn’s voice comes in as snippets and phrases in the Massive Attack-sounding “hollow” while in “growth” her heavily processed vocals fade in as part of the composition itself, an instrument that is propelling the track on its ascending path.
It’s exciting to see a debut EP arrive so sure of itself. With Structura Shn Shn has really poised herself as an artist to watch in 2021.