By Setota Hailemariam

2016 has been a fantastic year in music — probably to make up for how terrible it was in all other aspects. That aside, we’ve been blessed with great records this year, including some that slipped under most people’s radar.

love and noir., the Nov. 18 release from alternative R&B/pop group denitia and sene., is a brilliant record that’s been shamefully slept on.

The duo, hailing from Brooklyn, is comprised of songstress Denitia Odigie and Brian “Sene” (pronounced like “scene”) Marc, whose film credits include the movies Nerve, also starring Emma Roberts, and White Girl, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

“We met, like, in 2011, maybe, in Brooklyn, at a house party,” Sene recalled in an interview with The Writer’s Bloc. “We met at this place called the Clubhouse, it’s this artist residence in South Brooklyn … we had a big house party where a bunch of us performed.”

When asked to explain the group’s sound, Sene replied “minimalist dream pop.” That’s a pretty fitting description, though their 2013 release His and Hers. is listed in iTunes under the R&B/Soul category, love and noir. is a surreal soundscape that has definite pop and electronic influences.

“Honestly, you’re an anomaly,” Denitia murmurs during “favorite.,” the opening track of the record.  She could have been talking about the song, as its sparse instrumental and quiet sweetness make it stand out from others currently on the R&B charts, and a shining moment of the record as a whole.

Three or four tracks in, it really becomes clear how much of a truly unique listening experience you’re getting. The lowercase period-at-the-end motif hasn’t been abandoned, adding to the overall sense of mystery around the record. You start to feel almost hypnotized by both Denitia and Sene’s layered vocals and the subtly hip-hop inspired beats — especially apparent on “powder.” and “roulette.”

Because there are so many quirky artistic choices made on the album, it would be easy to dismiss the project as being too experimental had it been made by any other artist. However, denitia and sene. expertly toe the line between being out there and on-trend, avant garde and current, Brooklyn and Manhattan. From the video game-like beeps on “l.e.s. is more (interlude).” and quiet handclaps on the tribal anthem “the rum diaries.” to the brooding, yet catchy single “alone.,” the record is a welcomed breath of fresh air while still being accessible.

Hopefully, 2017 will be the year denitia and sene. break into the mainstream, as their music is just too good for the underground scene to keep to themselves. A tour to promote love and noir. would definitely help achieve that, and one is already in the works, according to Sene. The group played a show at the W Hotel in D.C. last Friday, and they’re “doing some spot dates [like that] on the East Coast” and “planning on doing the Southeast and West in the spring.”

Keep these guys on your radar in the upcoming year — their ambient beats and pensive sound is a closeted pop music lover’s dream come true.

love and noir. is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Aaron Vazquez.

Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at setotah98@gmail.com.

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