Riki is a synthpop act from Los Angeles featuring ex-Crimson Scarlet member Niff Nawor. She released a short EP back in 2017 entitled “Hot City” which served as a precursor sound-wise for her self-titled debut which was released in February 2020.
The cover artwork is simple enough, featuring a very androgynous looking photo of Nawor mackin’ it with the camera. In each corner of the cover are the letters that spell out “Riki.” I wouldn’t call it particularly original, but it definitely works. In the 70s and 80s this type of album cover was everywhere, especially when an artist went off on their own—like Phil Collins with Genesis or Sting with The Police.
Riki’s self-titled album channels a few different threads of music that reached the apex of their popularity back between 1978-1989. The first thread of her music has a cornerstone in the minimalistic Neu Deutsch Welle coldwave movement of West Germany that is a cross of acts like Visage, The Human League, and Nena. Riki’s “Come Inside” evokes a lot of this energy with it’s weird minimalistic leads and cold vocal style. The second thread of her music lies in Danceteria movement from New York City, Danceteria featured like Sonic Youth, Depeche Mode, and the Swans. The last and final thread lies in Nawor’s affinity for Italia disco aesthetics. This shines through especially Riki’s track “Napoleon” which is reminiscent of Sabrina’s “Boys” (1987) mixed with and Boney M’s “Rasputin” (1978).
It always astounds me to come across musicians like Nawor. It’s clear that there was a lot of attention to detail in production quality of Riki. It’s not only authentic sounding, but it also feels emotionally accurate for the time. Riki’s debut stands as a shining example of how music written in the 21st century can successfully emulate a completely different era independent of geographical location and personal experiences. If you’re are looking for a nostalgia trip that’ll make you feel like you’re in a European discotheque in 1984, you absolutely need to check out Riki.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Neu Deutsch Welle, coldwave, postpunk, Italian disco, and 80s synthpop.
Stand-out tracks: “Böse Lügen (Body Mix)” (aka the BEST track, so catchy), “Come Inside,” “Strohmann,” and “Napoleon.”
Album Color Profile: #880E4F