Review: Ekin Fil – Being Near

hms_038_M2Ekin Fil grants these songs just enough impetus to exist, but no more. Almost every track brandishes a muffled tom drum heartbeat, providing constant confirmation that blood is still being pumped around the music’s withering frame. The reassurance is necessary. Ekin Fil’s voice is barely strong enough to carry her song, with notes falling out of her breath to leave hollow sighs, and lyrics uttered in the faintest of articulated outlines. The guitar melodies roll between two or three chords, accompanied by sterile gusts of wind or trembling sobs of theremin, tilting through harmonies to let the blood dribble down veins to nourish the tips of toes and fingers. During “Vapors”, her voice emerges as open vowels that intermittently rise above the horizon line, so distant that I have to strain to even hear her. She’s fading away within the echo.

On “Almost Silence” – which arrives at the halfway mark – there’s a glint of optimism. Ekin Fil lifts her head up slightly. The tonality moves from crooked minor to ascending major, as background harmonies start to reinforce and invigorate her vocal line. Faint streaks of sunlight start to return to an atmosphere that otherwise wallows in stagnant blues and deprived greys; colour rushes back into frame as reverb parts to let the sunshine through, heralding rays of positive change. Yet the next track drains the hope away again, and I realise that “Almost Silence” was designed to relinquish the longing for life by bringing within touching distance, like water held before dehydrated lips. With “Desired”, the bitter winds return. Ekin Fil’s voice falls back to something between a song and a sleep murmur, moaning restlessly as keyboards and guitars congeal at the centre like the thickening fog of unconsciousness. It’s all downhill from here. Album closer “Stranger Than Them” is the saddest cut of them all; her voice has slipped to the edge of the stereo frame by now, falling out of the music altogether as miserable drones take her place, riding those empty winds like a ghost honouring those final, wretched moments of life.