Chris Ingalls: London’s Gaika Tavares, a former member of the Manchester rap crew Murkage, strikes out on his own with this single from his first solo album, Basic Volume. It’s a dramatic track, with GAIKA’s Auto-Tuned singing giving the almost “gothic” feel of the song an extra layer of mystery. Sonically, the song is rich and layered, with an Eastern-sounding vocal riff serving as the song’s musical centerpiece and lots of synths and programming swirling around everything. GAIKA has created a unique sound that seeps out onto the rest of Basic Volume. [7/10]
Rod Waterman: Warp Records has a hardcore electronic pedigree going back 30 years. Regardless of that, GAIKA seems to fit under their roof rather well, maintaining a certain brand identity, while also keeping it current and advancing the electronic agenda with something that owes more than a little to Burial, if not in a derivative way, and also with a little more spring in his step. Warp have described GAIKA’s sound as “gothic dancehall”, which makes a certain kind of sense, and might explain the rather alarming subliminal footage of Ivanka Trump in the video (right in the interstices between 1:05 and 1:06, if you must have the unfortunate particulars) which, frankly, I could have done without, but you know, politics.
There is a rather important feeling about this song, albeit apparently unsupported by hard evidence, and I couldn’t honestly tell you what the message might be. It doesn’t tug at the heartstrings, warm the cockles, or really stir the imagination though. Instead, the song seems instead to gnaw away at my insides in a fashion that might keep me awake if I were significantly younger and didn’t have other things to do that for me already. If I’m going to stay up at night worrying, let it be about something altogether more or altogether less significant, not something that appears to be right in the middle of the anxiety spectrum. [6/10]
Mick Jacobs: This track comes chock full of unsettling qualities: wailing child-like voices, a rumbling synth line, and Gaika lumbering forward like an autotuned boogeyman. It’s enough to freak you out a little bit, but also so cool that you can’t turn it off. [9/10]
Mike Schiller: “Seven Churches for St. Jude” isn’t exactly an obvious single choice – It’s the longest track on GAIKA’s Basic Volume album, and it goes in a lot of different directions by the time its near-six-minute runtime finishes. When GAIKA himself is at the mic, however, his intensity is unmistakable. When he’s not, the mix of buzzy electronics and epic strings is initially striking, but loses its power a bit over the course of a track this big. Points for ambition, but it never quite rises above being an intense, fascinating mess. [7/10]
Jordan Blum: It’s musically dramatic and mysterious from the start, and the opening visuals are just as cryptic yet evocative. I’m not feeling his vocals, though, especially with the Auto-Tune, and the backing could have more to it. There’s a powerful and emotional foundation for sure, but it doesn’t fulfill that promise. I always appreciate the use of voiceover to enhance the meaning, though, and the one here is effective. [6/10]
John Garratt: Here’s a song that’s as hard to watch as it is to listen to, though the latter isn’t exactly a criticism. Creating something that constitutes uneasy listening is an art. Having said that, there is a mounting tension that the song doesn’t ultimately fulfill. Shouldn’t there be some sort of crash after the prayer? Oh well, better to have some tension than none at all. [6/10]