(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Like Weather (1998), 6.5/10
Courtesy Of Choice (2000) , 5.5/10
Blood, Looms, And Blooms (2008) , 7/10

Iranian-born London-based female dj Leila Arab abstracted the stereotypes of trip-hop to create the surreal electronic folk of Like Weather (Rephlex, 1998), each song being painstakingly sculpted and then caressed by a guest vocalists (mostly Luca Santucci). The mood is often alienated, with the falsetto protagonist of Don't Fall Asleep sinking into a swampy bluesy rhythm, and the female crooner of Blue Grace overwhelmed by a menacing industrial rhythm. The longest track, So Low Amen sets in motion an intriguing rhythmic metamorphosis, which, again, defines the mood. However, the chanteuse of Feeling and Misunderstood returns to more straightforward formats (the latter copies the drums of Tommy Roe's Dizzy), and Won't You Be My Baby Baby sounds like vintage Wilson Pickett with a bit of samples and scratching and a jazzy orchestral coda. The composer seems interested in both reinventing the past and imagining the future. The instrumentals, that achieve both goals, steal the show: Underwaters (One For Keni) unwinds an alien music-box that is possibly the atmospheric gem of the album, Melodicore unleashes a cyclic frenzy that dissolves in a haunted mist, and the ticking, orchestral Space Love delivers a surreal cinematic experience.

Courtesy Of Choice (2000) was even more atmospheric, although it lacked the melodies to support it.

After an eight-year hiatus, Leila returned with the otherworldly digital ambience of Blood, Looms, And Blooms (Warp, 2008). The beats were protagonists, as usual, of Time To Blow with its exotic and martial ticking, and especially of the operatic The Exotics with its tribal and swampy polyrhythms. The arrangements, though, were more varied, enabling Daisies Cats And Spacemen to mutate from Burt Bacharach-ian lullabye to cabarettish singalong, and boosting the dialogue of Why Should I? with the drunk waltz of a harpsichord. The tone, in general, was less dejected than on the first album. Little Acorns was unusually childish and hilarious, and Deflect was sprightly and almost rocking. The instrumentals, yet again, were the highlights, starting with Mollie, a cosmic shuffle propelled by a robust beat and derailed by exotic nuances before upgrading to distorted techno locomotive, and peaking with Mettle, the rhythmic apotheosis of the album. On the humorous side, Carplos parodied the melodramatic synth-pop of the 1980s, and Lush Dolphins was a cartoonish novelty.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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