Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Pitchfork has reviewed Imaad Wasif's most recent album The Voidist, giving it a score of 7.7 out of 10...
[pitchfork.com] Nearly everything you'll read on Imaad Wasif will lead with something or other about his work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the New Folk Implosion, Alaska!, what have you, and this one's no exception. Trust that there's a reason for it; not only are Wasif's hired hands steady and limber no matter the situation, but over the course of a couple of solo albums, Wasif hasn't done much to distinguish himself from the impressive company he's kept. With The Voidist, however, Wasif's made a nimble, grandiose album all his own, one that feels like a move towards his own spotlight.
Whereas his texture-heavy previous solo work has often felt a bit shy of things like, er, songs, The Voidist is a relatively grandiose affair, drawing on the widescreen sound of 1990s Radiohead and the more ambitious later Led Zeppelin stuff. But despite its outsizes ambitions, The Voidist feels deeply personal and intensely focused, the epic construction of its tracks tempered by the economy of their arrangements and Wasif's hypnotic, Jeff Buckley-indebted voice. From the swarming brood of tone-setting opener "Redeemer"-- "I got a bad mood that precedes me," Wasif confides, not that it wouldn't be apparent from all the solemn yearning that follows it-- to the ruddy, thunderous closer "Razorlike" (jokin' on Johnny Borrell, is he?), the dynamic, deliberate Voidist contains multitudes.
Though Wasif's come a long way as a songwriter, his axework is still very much at the center of Voidist; the slate grey of his tightly wound tunes colored over by sharp shocks of neon from his guitar. It's easy to picture Wasif on the cover of some gearhead rag, seven-stringer in hand, but Voidist's more than just a fix for tone junkies. The easy ballast of bleary, very Bends-y "Priestess" does a whole swath of Jonny Greenwood acolytes a few better by keeping things simple, while the meandering folk-pop of "The Hand of the Imposter (Is the Promise of My Own)" and "Her Sorcery" feel deceptively complex, revealing more and more over time. Highlights abound, but it's the beyond-"Kashmir" of the back half of "Return to You" that serves as the elliptical Voidist's centerpiece, a slab of shoestring-epic bombast that marks the perfect collusion of Wasif's cosmic craving and newly-honed prosaic prowess. There were times throughout Wasif's prior solo work when it seemed the center couldn't hold, but each tune on Voidist feels intricately mapped out around this highest of high points.
Wasif's a slightly inscrutable lyricist, heavy on the hankering but without much indiction as to the source of said languish. As such, while it's easy to fall under Voidist's spell, its meanings can be a little tough to parse; one pictures Wasif staring off into the middle distance, seeing things words aren't always apt to describe. That feeling of being held at arm's length persists no matter how much time you put in with Voidist, and it's the record's only significant shortcoming. Still, one presumes with a little more time adjusting to the light, Wasif will open up a bit; for now, it's plenty just to sit and listen to The Voidist unfurl.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 7:45 PM