Leila Abdul-Rauf – Insomnia CD Malignant Antibody 2015
From the initial moment of the opening track ‘Midnight’ where disembodied echoed female vocalisations float forth from the speakers in combination with a musty soundscape and distant chimes, it inevitably draws comparisons to the sound of classic female fronted CMI act Aghast and stands as a very strong and positive introduction to the album. Yet this initial comparison is quickly shattered as the album continues and moves through a number of hazy night-time atmospheres to present an overall musicality to eclipse the initial comparative impression.
Although ‘Insomnia’ is steeped in elements of dark ambience, it is also imbedded with a level musicality and evocative atmospheres which make it much more ‘filmic’ and soundtrack styled. Likewise the use of a floating and hazy trumpet throughout a number of the tracks, coupled with the clean sung haunting female vocals and understated piano provides a dusky and darkly hued night-time atmosphere. ‘He Sits in His Room’ deviates slightly with its more focused musical frame of plucked to sweeping synth notes and prominent ethereal female vocals (the late track sweeping trumpet solo again evokes a twilight feel).
The overarching mood of ‘Insomnia’ is one a bleak cinematic film-noir style, where the hazy solo trumpet gives a haunting late night cabaret vibe; akin to something from a David Lynch film where a vaguely nightmarishly edge lurks at the periphery of perception. In some ways the filmic musicality on ‘Insomnia’ feels rather alien to the larger focus and output of Malignant Records, but also illustrates that darkness can also be exquisitely beautiful. Divergently recommended.