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07Room 336
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Songs We Love: 100%, 'Room 336'

Songs We Love: 100%, 'Room 336'

07Room 336
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100% is the performing alias of Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos. i

100% is the performing alias of Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist
100% is the performing alias of Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos.

100% is the performing alias of Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos.

Courtesy of the artist

Late last year, Queens, N.Y., songwriter Elaiza Santos quietly announced that her recorded output was about to disappear. A college student with a world-weary voice, Santos had begun her music career on two fronts: as the lead singer of Crying, an adventurous rock trio that wreathes its riffs in vintage video-game sounds, and on her own as the stripped-down Whatever, Dad. In two years and a half-dozen EPs, the two projects have presented disparate but complementary modes of expression — the former expansive, approachable and Technicolor-bright; the latter claustrophobic, enigmatic and rainy-day gray.

Last year ended well for Crying, which toured ad hoc spaces and midsize clubs alike, unleashed a handful of new songs and started work on a forthcoming LP. Whatever, Dad's releases, meanwhile, vanished from their home on Bandcamp. Santos addressed the decision sparingly online, giving little in the way of backstory but implying that something personal was at stake.

Weeks later, from the black hole that swallowed her old identity, a new one is emerging. It Gets Darker is Santos' first release as 100%, and that Google-proof moniker is only part of a larger commitment to obscurity. (At least for now, the new songs can't be bought or downloaded — only streamed on a hard-to-find webpage whose eggplant-on-eggplant color scheme makes it close to unreadable.) But for those who clear the functional hurdles, something mystic awaits: Especially compared to the wry storytelling that preceded it, It Gets Darker is swarming and gestural, intercut with ambient sounds that tip the music in and out of legibility. It's still just Santos and her guitar, but it often feels like there's a ghost in the room.

"Room 336," the longest and most conventionally structured track, begins with a shiver: "Could have sworn that I felt hands on my ass / Fingers in the sweater pocket, like spider's legs." The spirit the singer describes is volatile, too spectral to grasp and yet strong enough to be felt snaking about her body and into her bed. Matching the mood, Santos delivers her vocal as if from under the covers — half-whispers sinking into layers of guitar, submerging all but their most sibilant peaks. The picture she paints could be memory or fantasy, embrace or assault. The figure in the room could be the narrator herself, locked in struggle with a psychic twin. Intentions are never made explicit, and in this new phase of work from a singular young artist, that seems to be the way of things.

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