New Music: From Enemies to Allies: noaccordion transmutes pain into transcendent, glitchy electronica on Surrender

New LP Surrender

When noaccordion’s Onah Indigo threw herself into writing music for her new LP she was hurting, physically and emotionally. She titled one track “Nemesis,” then “Enemies.” As the balm of creating music and collaborating with friends healed her hurt, she gave the track a final title to signify her new state of mind: “Allies.”

The Oakland-based electronic musician and accordion maverick was reeling from a soured relationship and the lingering pain of a back injury when she created the music on Surrender (self-release May 18). “The best way for me to work with pain was to make the music,” she explains. “It was a dark, heavy winter, and I just had to plug myself into the studio and focus on songwriting. I’m driven to process my emotion, and music-making transforms it into beauty.”

Surrender is the result of this alchemical process: transmuting the emotional energy of that leaden winter into glitch hop-infused electronic tracks. At the heart of each track, eclectic beats are juxtaposed with the unexpected samples that are typical of noaccordion albums- if anything about noaccordion can be called typical.

For one thing, there is accordion on Surrender. Despite her initial ambivalence about the unwieldy instrument that gives her act its name, Onah has embraced the accordion in the studio and on stage. On the downtempo meditation “Another Way,” she spins a thread of melody with the accordion akin to how some other electronic artists use violin, while on “Mars,” it takes on an aggressive, distorted edge that Onah describes as angry “Aries energy” in response to the current political climate.

“Grow” encapsulates the mood of the album. Onah builds a lush undergrowth out of layers of piano, heart-thumping beats, and operatic vocals. After she created the achingly beautiful backing track, Onah invited Aleksandra Dubov to lend some extra sweetness with her classically trained voice. The sonic landscape has a range reminiscent of Phaeleh’s cinematic electronica, but it’s charged with feminine energy that testifies to Onah and Aleksandra’s close collaboration on the vocals and lyrics. “After rocky relationships, where is it safe enough to let my garden grow?” Onah asks. “We both related to that.”

Onah’s alchemical quest for transformation takes her through a spectrum of personas and moods. On “Ready,” Surrender’s first track, Onah twines her voice with other singers to celebrate femininity and many forms of love. Onah sampled her own voice and pitched it down to play with a male persona on “Lessons,” the glitch hop track that closes out the album.

This sonic and emotional range is extended further by the artists that allied with Onah on Surrender, many of whom are also part of the East Bay’s wildly creative, deeply weird, highly collaborative experimental music and art scene. Trumpeter Eric “eO” Oberthaler ties together the cumbia-flavored beat medley of “Quick Time,” the sweet-sounding flow of Michaelah Miraculah overlays the heavy beats of “The Cure,” and a Reggae chorus by Spencer Garret Burton of the Indubious duo funks up “Goodness Rise Again.” Under Onah’s guidance, all these elemental energies feel at home in Surrender’s amalgam of sounds.

“That word surrender is a big deal for me,” Onah muses. “I want to surrender into the feminine, but most of the time I don’t feel safe. I’m trying to look at surrender from a more powerful point of view. Surrender isn’t giving up, it’s learning about when to yield, being more mindful, and accepting the moment with grace. Surrendering can be empowering.”


clinging to the pastfeeling rejected at the moment,  washed over by these emotions of sadness and anger, i feel lonely, an outcast, and then i remind myself that i really enjoy alot of time alone as well, and that the main reason that i am feeling rejected is that i had attachments to how things would play out, it seems that each time i have an enjoyable intimate connection with someone i want to repeat the experience but the other doesnt always want that, it reminds me of how special it is when we do connect, that somehow we r in sync for a time, but that time could be very short, trying to stay present but constantly revisiting pleasurable and sometimes painful recent experiences, acknowledging and  letting go of attachments daily..

clinging to the past (osho zen tarot):these tenses-past,present and future-are not the tenses of time; they are tenses of the mind.  that which is no longer before the mind becomes the past. that which is before the mind is the present. and that which is going to be before the mind is the future. past is that which is no longer before you. future is that which is not yet before you.  and present is that which is before you and is slipping out of your sight, soon it will be past……if you dont cling to the past……because clinging to the past is absolute stupidity.  it is no longer there, so you are crying for spilt milk.  what is gone is gone!  and dont cling to the present because that is also going and soon will pass.  dont cling to the future-hopes, imaginations, plans for tomorrow-because tomorrow will become today, will become yesterday.  everything is going to go out of your hands.  clinging will simply create misery. you will have to let go.