Published Apr 12, 2018Leila Abdul-Rauf's page on Encyclopaedia Metallum lists Hammers of Misfortune, Ionophore, the Bastard Noise and Vastum as bands she is actively working with. Past projects include Amber Asylum, Memento Mori, Saros and Sutek Conspiracy. While it's true that having your own EM page doesn't automatically make you an interesting person, it certainly doesn't make you less so.
Artistically, this new solo effort is a departure from her leather-and-studs back catalogue. Diminution (a reduction in the size or importance of a thing) is very much a less-is-more endeavour. That said, these eight tracks feature the same theatricality that often adorns quality metal. It's just a lot quieter.
The disc opens with its title track; Abdul-Rauf describes it as influenced by Erik Satie, the great French avant-gardist. Improvised on piano and trumpet, it showcases two of the multi-instrumentalist's great strengths.
That's followed by a haunting piece called "Life Leaving," Abdul-Rauf's take on what it's like to be in the presence of a family member as they pass away. And so the album unfolds, with soft, echoing vocals, synth washes, church bells and more. Another tribute piece, "Self-Recognition," is dedicated to electronic music great Pauline Oliveros.
Abdul-Rauf is aiming high with this new recording. While her vocals are a bit weak at times and the music feels oddly smothered by the album's production, there is something here. She is a talented composer and improviser. Don't bet against her producing something remarkable. (Malignant)