Ilyas Ahmed – With Endless Fire (2012)

9 Fév

There’s always been a weird sort of distant kinship between Ilyas Ahmed and Jandek, not necessarily something stylistic, but something hermetic, something indefinably lonesome. On the opening track of this stunning album Ahmed cements the deal with a forlorn setting of wordless vocalese that transmits exactly the same feel of enlightenment in – or despite of – oblivion as Jandek’s “Om” while being nestled in the kind of rural psychedelia of Flying Saucer Attack’s first LP.
All of Ahmed’s records feel like travelogues, journals, and as such they are all very different while remaining essentially the same – the same focus on blending dosed Americana with modal styles, the same blasted atmosphere – even as the guitar playing in particular has grown in confidence and so been able to support more emotional weight. It’s a nomadic music, in that Ahmed functions as a lightning rod for a buncha disparate sides – think Crazy Horse via Skip Spence via Tommy Roundtree – while drawing them all into his prodigious gravity. In much the same way his music has a retrospective appeal, as if he is soundtracking moments or mental scenarios that have already been lived through, memorials for certain moods and moments. That’s another quality that he shares with Jandek. In common with this his music is often inchoate, out of focus, once removed from linear concerns of song. Indeed, perhaps only Joshua’s Gold Cosmos has the revelatory power of With Endless Fire, despite never really settling on anything that could explicitly be termed ‘singer-songwriter’. Rather, With Endless Fire works in terms of sustained moods, with more in common with, say, Roy Harper’s Stormcock or Skip Spence’s Oar than anything to do with straightforward songsmanship. But the cumulative effect is hypnotic, with singing drones and an almost Gary Yoder (Oxford Circle/Kak/Blue Cheer) inflected fuzztone over endlessly deep string drones and the kind of sanctified acoustic guitar of the best of the late 60s UK folk privates propelled by head-nodding, boo-huffing hand percussion. This is the sound of nowhere, right now, tied up with all of the shadows that might suggest. A magical album, edition of 1000 copies with heavy Stoughton tip-on gatefold sleeves and a download. Highly recommended!


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