Дeva: Csillag Review

Csillag album cover art
Дeva (Deva): Csillag (released on Move Gently Records, 2022).

Rising talent Дeva’s debut album is eerie, haunting and utterly spell-binding.

Budapest-based singer and producer Дeva (Deva), Dorina Takács, is inspired by traditional Hungarian folk melodies and she skilfully weaves these into her spell-binding dance music. Recent winner of the Music Moves Europe Award, Дeva’s 11-track album was released at the end of January and Csillag means ‘Star’ in Hungarian.

The album builds on the artist’s signature folktronica style from previous releases, built around blending ethereal polyphonic voices and thrumming beats. That being said, unlike her previous singles, this album marks a decisive shift to writing music in Hungarian. Previous single Unglitched was written in English and other tracks such as Witchcraft were given English titles (although the lyrics were in Hungarian.)

At the heart of this new release is a connection to nature and the mythological, encapsulated by the eerie eye on the cover artwork, designed by the artist herself.

A case in point, the music video for Fa Lenni (to be a tree) follows Дeva walking barefoot through a forest until she eventually turns into a tree. Lyrically, the songs are based around a few words or mantras, in Fa Lenni for example, she repeats ‘My heart is never without sorrow’ and ‘Flower, flower, flower’. Other songs touch on fate, love and the pain of letting go. Regardless of whether you understand Hungarian, the repeated phrases in her music, intricately laced into multi-layered harmonies have the power to lead anyone into a meditative trance.

The pulsating bass and earworm hooks of Ikiri or Szélben Szött featuring the production talents of folktronica duo Labek & Chrobak brings to mind the flashing lights and dark shapes of people swaying in sync on a club dance floor. Meanwhile, tracks such as Bölcső (Lullaby), sprinkled with gently plucked harps and soft flutes, and the rolling arpeggios of instrumental track O are more akin to the sunlight filtering through the leaves of an evergreen forest. Bölcső even opens with birdsong. 

Elsewhere, the opening and closing tracks, Óperenciás and Egy, are freeform soundscapes, giving us a peak into Дeva’s creative process before the ideas are moulded into songs. The a cappella choral music of Egy (One) is particularly enchanting.

Csillag is a stunning debut from a rising star whose talent shines well beyond the borders of her native Hungary.

Total Score
    5/5 Certified TUNE
    Repeated mantras about nature, life and loss set to haunting melodies create a trance-like effect.
    5/5 Certified TUNE
    The choir of ethereal voices and driving beats that form Дeva's timeless style are a winning formula, plus the addition of flutes and drums in some songs add an organic-sounding depth.
    5/5 Certified TUNE
    Дeva has carved out her own unique niche and her timeless sound is very different to anything else on the global music scene. One to watch.
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