REVIEW: Princess Century - Progress

Kelly Kirwan

What are the inner workings of Maya Postepski’s mind? If we were to explore (Inception style) this hidden headspace, I feel we’d find one of those underground clubs—a labyrinth of dimly lit halls whose various rooms are filled with synth pop, beat sequences and electronica. Perhaps a steam machine running somewhere for good measure. 

More introspective and moody than good, ol'-fashioned dance music, Postepski gravitates towards these brooding, pulsating waves with rich percussive beats throughout (which is unsurprising, considering her educational background in percussion, and how she handled the drums for electronic groups Austra and occasionally TRST). But now, the Toronto native has struck out on her own for the second time around, releasing the sophomore album Progress under her solo stage name Princess Century (out via Paper Bag Records).  

As a ten-year veteran of the electronic music scene, with hyphenated DJ, remix artist, and producer labels attached to her name, Postepski isn’t exactly reinventing herself. She’s simply giving us a deeper look into the sonic style and taste that’s been woven into her previous collaborations. In fact, much of Princess Century’s material comes from Postepski’s contributions to Austra that never made the cut. In her individual work, she’s limitless in the sense that there’s no middle ground to be forged with another artist. As she explained to SXSW, “Princess Century is the project where I take the most risks because I don’t care… it’s where I indulge in all my fucked up ideas and sometimes they work.” Perhaps that’s why the new album was given the moniker Progress—to signify her continually-evolving state as a musician. 

This isn’t to say that her album is raw or somehow unfinished. It’s intricately polyrhythmic, a dark, space-age kind of disco with a wide range of beats and drumming effects (my favorite of which is the opener for "Tokyo Hands," with its simple drum-circle vibe). One of the groovier elements of the LP is "Sunscream," with an intro quite literally like a lion’s roar to catch your attention. The song then works on two levels—its underbelly a throwback to old-school disco and pop psychedelia, and its top half an ethereal, across-the-cosmos traipsing venture—both of which will get you moving. 

It’s this intersection of genres that’s a mainstay for Progress; an entirely instrumental album that’s a revolving door of musical styles. Princess Century may be new, but Maya Postepski is no novice, and her interstellar synths and deliberate arpeggios prove as much. 

When describing her latest project, Postepski touched on the interplay of “lightness and playfulness, as well as the dark we all hold within.” It’s an unfiltered and intimate portrait of who she is as an artist and how her mind works. The beats pull you in for a dreamy, almost out-of-body (or interplanetary) experience that’ll have you emerging from the basement level of her club back into the day, wondering when exactly her last track ended and who “gave you the kick” back to reality.