Iranian-born London-based female dj Leila Arab
abstracted the stereotypes of trip-hop to create the
surreal electronic folk of
Like Weather (Rephlex, 1998), each song being painstakingly sculpted and then caressed by a guest vocalists (mostly Luca Santucci).
The mood is often alienated, with the falsetto protagonist of Don't Fall Asleep sinking into a swampy bluesy rhythm, and the female crooner of
Blue Grace overwhelmed by a menacing industrial rhythm.
The longest track, So Low Amen sets in motion an intriguing rhythmic
metamorphosis, which, again, defines the mood.
However, the chanteuse of Feeling and
Misunderstood returns to more straightforward formats (the latter copies
the drums of Tommy Roe's Dizzy), and
Won't You Be My Baby Baby sounds like vintage
Wilson Pickett with a bit of samples and scratching and a jazzy orchestral coda.
The composer seems interested in both reinventing the past and imagining the
The instrumentals, that achieve both goals, steal the show:
Underwaters (One For Keni) unwinds an alien music-box
that is possibly the atmospheric gem of the album,
Melodicore unleashes a cyclic frenzy that dissolves in a haunted mist,
and the ticking, orchestral Space Love delivers a surreal cinematic experience.
Courtesy Of Choice (2000) was even more atmospheric, although it lacked
the melodies to support it.
After an eight-year hiatus, Leila returned with the
otherworldly digital ambience of
Blood, Looms, And Blooms (Warp, 2008).
The beats were protagonists, as usual, of Time To Blow with its exotic
and martial ticking,
and especially of the operatic The Exotics with its tribal and swampy polyrhythms.
The arrangements, though, were more varied, enabling
Daisies Cats And Spacemen to mutate from
Burt Bacharach-ian lullabye to
and boosting the dialogue of Why Should I? with the
drunk waltz of a harpsichord.
The tone, in general, was less dejected than on the first album.
Little Acorns was unusually childish and hilarious, and
Deflect was sprightly and almost rocking.
The instrumentals, yet again, were the highlights, starting with
Mollie, a cosmic shuffle propelled by a robust beat and derailed by exotic nuances before upgrading to distorted techno locomotive, and peaking with
Mettle, the rhythmic apotheosis of the album.
On the humorous side,
Carplos parodied the melodramatic synth-pop of the 1980s, and
Lush Dolphins was a cartoonish novelty.
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