Sevdaliza - Shabrang Music Album Reviews

On her sophomore album, the singer examines good and evil through a series of spare, cryptic parables.

Sevdaliza approaches her sophomore album Shabrang like a lounge singer fresh off a marathon reading of Paradise Lost, the complexities of a fallen state of grace heavy on her mind. The record’s title comes from a mythical Persian horse, Shabrang Behzād, the “night-colored purebred” of the hero Siyâvash, and its project is in part a reflex to the impossibility of translation. To demonstrate the depth of meaning contained in the Farsi phrase “shabrang,” Sevdaliza names as many shades of night that she can. What results is a work of emotional maximalism, an album that grades exclusively from dark to darker through parable-like songs populated with devils and tangerine-selling women, whose opening word “evil” proves to be not only a condemnation but the concept at its heart.
As with her 2018 debut Ison and her most recent EP The Calling, Sevdaliza co-produced Shabrang with Netherlands-based Mucky and enlisted Mihai Puscoiu to construct the album’s spine of film noir strings. The album maintains the spare economy of its predecessors. Apart from the strings (a dulcimer melody on opener “Joanna” starts the album off on an epic course), each track consists mostly of music box piano riffs, gothic synths, and the rogue leaden beat. Trip-hop, the label used to classify her music in the past, feels less than helpful now. The straightforward Farsi ballad “Gole Bi Goldoon,” apocalyptic club track “Darkest Hour,” and cyborgian grunge “Rhode,” all linked by Sevdaliza’s dextrous voice, feel essential over the course of the record. Her carnivorous approach bears resemblance to that of another album based around the concept of darkness: Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene, whose songs were held together less by genre than the strength of a singular creative vision.

Shabrang’s fifteen tracks are preoccupied with emotional extremes and the prospect of self-understanding gained through testing those extremes, territory not new to Sevdaliza’s writing. The possibilities and limitations of self-construction loosely framed Ison. On “Human,” she dissected herself over little more than a skittish beat, turning her humanity into a list of essential parts: skin, bones, veins, sweat, scars, and soul. On Shabrang, Sevdaliza aims to identify exactly where she ends and everything else begins; to do so, she refracts herself through pain like white light through quartz, separating out knots of dependency and power. Despite its runtime of over an hour, the album feels lithe in a way Ison does not.

Seductive evil requires an opposite state like purity or goodness, a definite binary suggested in the pleading “Joanna.” But Sevdaliza quickly proves herself more interested in the inseparability of evil from good. On the title track, she allows herself the melodrama of divinity to speak to someone who’s harmed her: “I refer to you as my holy suffering.” Throughout the album, love and hate are one, with pain showing itself to be preordained and innocence shading quickly into culpability. Sevdaliza’s incisive use of Auto-Tune helps her straddle those emotional and moral divides. On “Habibi” (the Arabic word for “my love”), she achieves a startling bleakness by warping the question “is there anyone out there to get me out of my head?”; this skillful manipulation transforms a request into a moment of surrender and makes the song’s sampled crack of thunder seem understated.

Even the album’s lightest moments position themselves as opportunities for existential meditation. “All Rivers At Once” is a song like a slow walk, underpinned by reverbed acoustic guitar. A mundane image of romance beside a river expands into an address to “children of the light” and the desperate refrain “I don’t want to feel pain” over rolling drums and probing synths. At its best, Sevdaliza’s all-in commitment to philosophical musing lends a parable-like quality to her writing, with essential questions of being and form couched in spare images. Other tracks, like “Wallflower,” with its spoken word chorus about whispered melodies and the promise that “all is meant to be,” don’t quite escape the feeling of smoked-out corniness.

The racing “Eden” folds Sevdaliza’s interest in subjugation as it relates to self-formation into one phrase. “I want to be your secret, or at least its keeper,” she sings, then repeats herself, replacing the central word pairing each time. Secret and keeper become pearl and shell, army and trojan horse, well and source, muse and mistress, bible and witness. Selfhood, the song implies, is a process based at its core on capitulation, so long as it means getting closer to your object of desire. The song also holds one of the album’s most memorable hooks. “If I can’t be the song/At least have mercy/Let me hear her.” Self-referential, it refocuses Shabrang’s mission. The album is not solely about darkness, but also what we’re willing to give up trying to escape it.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Sevdaliza - Shabrang Music Album Reviews Sevdaliza - Shabrang Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, September 04, 2020 Rating:

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