1: 03 August 2019
There are days when life conspires against you. The car refuses to start. An absent-minded colleague knocks their tea over your laptop. You gouge a hole in your t-shirt during an attempt to shuffle past a bramble bush. At times, the turntable work on BLUD captures this sensation – motion sputtering to a halt, labouring through another rotation, then groaning into another standstill. It’s like someone has lathered the mechanism in treacle, turning the otherwise effortless whirl into an exasperating jumble of wheeze, labour and failure; viscous, inert dollops of misfortune gumming up the motor. The effect is never more pronounced than on “I (ft YOL)”, during which the slugs of forced record rotation are splattered amidst sliced-up, semi-asphyxiated vocal syllables and constipated growls. Spurts of “I – uh – I’ve – I’ve been wondering – uh” pummel the canvas, like thoughts trying to squeeze through the congested slit between the mind and the mouth. Why is nothing easy today?
Elsewhere, drones and loops are made to droop like branches of wet willow: “DECELERATONISM (ft Kenosist)” sounds like the horizontal bars of an untracked analogue television, melting into inverted smiles as Rezaei tries to realign the picture and only makes matters worse. “OF DEFEAT” is pure vertiginous nausea, with cycles of strange feedback trapped in lumpy orbit with a vocal improvisation that can’t quite suss out which way is up. Yet despite this dominant impression that BLUD is in an inescapable tango with the haphazard, the record also manifests as a masterwork of motion and control. Like the comical stumblings of a silent movie protagonist, there’s ultimately a very “knowing” choreography at work here; one that scuffs and snags its onward movement but never snuffs it out entirely.
2: 08 August 2019
Today I turn to “MAD (ft Rhodri Davies)”, which breaks free from the slippery rewinds of the turntables to exist as a single, uncrinkled passage of time. “I’m mad…I’m…I’m mad…so mad…about the baby…” she sings, slowly and spaciously, teasing out the sentence with brittle patience. Each vowel hangs in the air, elongating the breath, lulling the piece into lucidity.
Of course, feeling “mad” is often all-consuming; the self disappears into the sensation, and the utterances of the rational mind become trampled underneath the flails of rage. On one hand, Rezaei separates from the feeling through acknowledging it. Her voice flutters like a ribbon, latching onto an updraft and hanging there, sloping downward with a composure that sits in contrast to the tumbles and bumps of the album elsewhere. Yet there’s also something solemn about the statement. Perhaps this mad-ness still exists during these moments of relative quiet, dormant but unshakeably present. As if to assert this speculation, in comes the jangle of Davies’s harp: a warped low growl of loose metal and wood, like the guttural purr of a sleeping beast, fastening Razaei’s porcelain song to the serration of its source feeling.