Leila Abdul-Rauf – Cold and Cloud


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

The last one of the year I’m covering and what a finale it is, an album from one of Amber Asylum’s members which truly lives up to the term desolate. A record you’d put on and then just stare out your window while the rain beads off of it, screaming at yourself inside your own head about how things turned out. A litany of longing, the endless sea giving up nothing but salt and spray. It is curious to see this release categorized as drone because there’s quite a bit going on in each of these ten tracks, they contain much more than a few tones repeated at different intervals to chew up space. Why, she even sings on a few in an abstract and ghostly manner that will prevent you from ever falling asleep.

This is one of the few times I’ve found an artist through another but considering that Tor Lundvall did the album art for her, I hope I can be forgiven. To be honest, she’s got a sound and style I really cannot pin down. There are ambient elements to it and it is definitely experimental, but beyond this just forget it. The first few times I heard this I went back and dug out the two albums Gira and Jarboe released under the name of Skin in the late 80s and there are tenuous threads which partially connect them, however, Leila doesn’t do full orchestrations as they did. She prefers to allow the space between those notes become her symphony.

A symphony of incredible loneliness. Not the type you’d find in a museum, either. It’s incredibly personal what she’s done with ‘Cold and Cloud’ and as is the case with many other records I become attached to it is too damn short. I’ve done my research on her, she’s involved in numerous  projects but this is the first time she’s ventured out on her own. I hope it isn’t the last. She has begun something on here, a sort of psychological journey which will lead to all sorts of strange, unexpected destinations.

I should have known that the more time I spent with her work, the deeper it would embed itself. There was actually a brief moment of hesitation on my part with that tiny, nagging voice cautioning that this could be a bit too far out there. But limits are designed by their very nature to be exploited and in a musical sense ignored. So I put this on and by the time the first airing had ended, I was hooked. In accordance with a pattern that has become maddeningly familiar, Leila’s work is not going to be heard by all that many people. Those who do I just hope spend the proper amount of time with it because there is sublime majesty contained on ‘Cold and Cloud’.

Leila Abdul-Rauf – Cold and Cloud
Saadi Saati, SS- 01
LP 2013

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