M.I.A.'s /\/\/\Y/\ is an album built predominantly on hundreds of seemingly disparate sounds — power tools and jet engines, tablas and computer-keyboard click-clack, whoops and wails and whining modems — which sort of makes sense, considering how she made it.
"I built a room under the house that was kind of like a cave; you had to go down into it," she told MTV News last month. "And then I just sort of made it as creative as possible for me — I was just sort of making the furniture and making the pictures, covered all the walls with stuff that I made, so it feels like every step of the way, I was working on the layers of this sort of environment."
Creating her so-called cave was a move that was as much artistic as it was, well, practical. M.I.A. had just given birth to her first child, which meant she couldn't exactly hole herself up in some fancy studio for hours on end. And, by burying herself in a bunker, she was able to tap into the feelings she'd been bottling up for months — feelings of isolation and claustrophobia, which both heavily influenced /\/\/\Y/\'s sound.
"I wanted to make something more personal, and more organic, and real, and that connected to my life. And when you're in L.A., it's set up for you to move on up and go into these big studios and do crazy sh--," she said. "It was made at home in a commune environment, just because at the moment, that's what was possible to me. I had a child, and the baby monitor only goes for 200 meters or whatever, so I couldn't go further than that."
And while some criticisms of the album seem to draw on the fact that it's much removed from the global soundscapes she created on Arular and Kala, M.I.A. says that was pretty much inevitable. After all, not only had she become a mother and scored a massive hit, but she was forbidden from leaving the country thanks to her always-pesky Visa issues, so she was basically forced to make /\/\/\Y/\ in a cave. And though the location may have changed, the setup remained very much the same.
"It's not like a state-of-the-art studio. It's just got a table, two speakers and a laptop, like how Kala was made," she said. "There was no pressure, basically. And that was the most important thing to me was, at the time, not being in this huge studio that cost so much money, with all these people and engineers, and you know, like, with the pressure of making hits."
Do you think M.I.A.'s new album is a departure from her previous work? Let us know in the comments!