EP Review: Elijah, ‘Fragments, 2013’

Listen to Fragments, 2013.

Image credit: Ciesay

Elijah Maja made his EP Fragments, 2013, that year with producer The Hotel, but released it on 22 April. The 4 tracks are amongst a broader collection of unreleased music created over the past decade interspersed with other pursuits. He worked on the art film Back and Song and the documentary Black to Techno, and founded creative direction and research hub Future Together Lab, which recently hosted the Sonic Seams exhibition in London. Encouraged by friends and “overwhelmed with the material” still on his computer, the release was not timed for this uncertain, disorienting period but is well-suited to it nonetheless. 

Fragments, 2013 was written and recorded in The Hotel’s home studio. They met through mutual friends, and shared creative chemistry despite not knowing each other long. “We wrote stuff together on the spot, but it wasn’t forced. It was quite organic.”

That ease of collaboration is audible in the sparse beats and spacious music. ‘Autumn/Winter’ blues opens the EP with a foreboding monologue sampled from The Wire. The vocals inspired by Prince and “non-invasive voices of radio hosts” were produced with dub and techno elements. Elijah unfurls subtle melodies that dart along broken piano chords, reaching a gradual crest in ‘Let Me In’.

In ‘Scale Away’, Elijah’s voice floats overhead in a haunting, misty soundscape, crooning uncertain and unsettling lyrics over a plucked violin sequence (“you tore into my brain, isn’t that enough for you? I swore I’d stay away, these words know no truth”). The final track, ‘Keep (Ephemeral)’, was produced by Elijah and redLee. Its heavier beat departs from the previous tracks’ languid restraint.

Fragments, 2013 resonates in and of itself seven years after its inception and offers an auditory glimpse into Elijah’s headspace, influences, and social scene from that time. During lockdown, he’s writing more music at home in London in similar energetic and creative streams. Elijah’s interest in the acoustics and ambience of vast spaces originates from singing and playing the drums in a church choir with his family as a child. The ethereal reverb and delay offer auditory relief to cagey listeners this sixth week of lockdown, and transport them to a vaster aural space beyond the confines of their home.