Nostalgic lonesome synthesizers, far away epic bows, elegant jazzy pianos, noisy, industrial and slow drum sets, a taste of Middle East. One constant, a deeply convincing voice that echoes in your heart and penetrates through your skin. You can try to get prepared before listening to her for the first time, nevertheless you’ll be taken by surprise. Please, let me introduce you Sevdaliza, a much discussed young Iranian girl, based in the Netherlands.
She’s some kind of a rare amalgamation: her eastern roots, her love for things and sounds remote, her elegance, her darkness. Masters of Trip Hop like the Massive Attack had been charmed by the sounds of the east as well (do you remember “Inertia Creeps”?). It’s not a coincidence. The mysterious sound of those lands joins harmonically with the purposes of Trip Hop.
When the remoteness of a vast desert meets the darker sides of the soul, what comes out is a niche perfection. This is not music for the most, this is for those who feel a certain degree of emotion. She’s been extremely prolific through the last five years and eventually released her first album in 2017.
ISON is a real gem.
Let her take you through the corridors of a deserted luxurious Sultan Palace with a song like “Shahmaran”; take a look at the red carpets, the tapestries on the walls, you’ll be enchanted by the golden and marmoreal pillars or the stylish chandeliers. Let her introduce you to the wonders of the exotic desert and fly over it, discovering unexpected far away oasis at dusk through “Grace”. Struggle, abandon yourself in a bed all alone, light up a sad cigarette listening to ”Bluecid”.
Take a look at yourself in the mirror and find yourself beautiful listening to “Marylin Monroe”. Make your way in a poorly lit night bar thanks to “Replaceable”, “Amandine Insensible” or “The Language of Limbo”. Watch the environment that surrounds you: the walls twist on the notes of “Human” or “Hero”, where the voice of Sevda Alizadeh gets distorted in a Nosaj Thing like maneuver. Eventually allow her to take you down the stairs to hell with “Do You Feel Real”, which orchestra sound reminds director Woycheck Kilar, and then let her take you back to Hope with “When I Reside”.
ISON is a set of heterogeneous masterpieces that share a few common elements.
What strikes is the minimalism of the tracks and their complexity at the same time. ISON is an “elemental” work but still it sounds so particularized, so full of details. Take for instance “Loves Way” outro, a not so short sampled preacher speech in line with the themes Sevdaliza likes to deal with (womanhood, motherhood).
Even though, as many others nowadays, Sevdaliza does not define herself into the boundaries of a specific musical genre, songs like “Hubris” or “Libertine” are without doubts, the best examples of what Trip Hop sounds today.
“Hubris” intro is a shy organ. It grows slowly, as her voice and the rhythm section pull, it reaches a peak and then falls in a silent electronic Wagon Christ or Amon Tobin like outro, with bizarre childish voices and sounds playing chaotically. A tiny but still interesting detail.
“Libertine” bass at the beginning is a dark beast moan, awakening from a long sleep; then its rhythm path walks through a jungle of echoes and riverberations, stops and goes, reminding a (yet tidier) drill and bass era. After the first chorus section, an extraterrestrial hum, a hiss, comes unexpectedly over the voice and the dark bass. Another minuscule but still enriching detail.
We could stay here and talk about Sevdaliza incomparable talent for hours, we could seek and find a lot of comparisons with great artists, we could get exhausted dealing with the many tracks and EPs she also released aside of her magnificent debut album (rarely disregarding expectations). But what is probably more interesting for the aims of this specific column is the fact that for all the Down Tempo lovers, Sevdaliza work and especially her debut album is a contemporary milestone.
No other album (or just a few probably) released in recent years, can recall the atmospheres of pure Trip Hop such as ISON. If you love this genre, you must listen to this album. You will lost youself and you’ll find pleasure and more.