On her new album, The Living World’s Demands, Baltimore-based musician Ami Dang uses ambient synth sounds to ask big questions about where we are today. Dang’s sitar and experimental synth conjure a dreamlike atmosphere and their vocals ask us to respond to the nightmares of our time. Dang highlights the struggle for reproductive justice, the climate catastrophe, a global pandemic and all else that mankind has done to unravel the natural world and each other.

The first single, “A Muted Crime,” layers vocals over a repeated melodic theme that lulls you into a contemplation. The song is a call to survivors of abusive cycles to break free and to understand their own oppression so they can fight against it. She sings, “Electrify! / Break free from your pyre / Fear not now,” calling to mind traditions in which women and femmes sacrificed in the name of patriarchy. Dang’s voice is at once firm and ethereal, grounded in the sorrows of what has been endured yet grasping for something transformative.

The track “Sensations” is a questioning of the media and the Internet’s effects on collective human experience. On it, Dang sings, “What’s your poison? / My voyeurism? / Don’t change the channel yet.” The song’s beat and melody render the feeling of getting swept up in something addictive. Dang guides us through an interrogation of habits that we know are destructive in the long run, using a sound that can feel comparable to the dopamine hit of getting a much-anticipated DM.

Not all of the album is so forthright. Dang experiments alongside us, giving us time to contemplate what radical futures might look like. On “Betting On The Bull,” her lilting vocals open up space to imagine going beyond survival and into true joy – an emotion fully embodied in the next track “Oh Dha Ta Na.”

Mixing contemporary and traditional, Indian classical and Western electronic, Ami Dang bridges nuanced understandings of the past to help us imagine a better future. The living world’s demands may be heavy, but under the direction of Dang’s thoughtful arrangement, we might learn to address them one by one.