Ilyas Ahmed

Always nice to see a familiar name waft up in the release schedule, especially one from an artist that’s been carving out his nice for more than a decade. Ahmed’s been entrancing the world with his foggy take on psych-folk since 2005’s great Between Two Skies. In the time between that debut and now he’s made time on Digitalis, Immune, Time-Lag, and Root Strata – not a bad little resume, if you ask me. His latest finds the artist landing at UK label MIE, and as expected, it’s full of sunset-hewed folk that’s wound loosely with a netting of gauzy, amp-buzzed production. Ahmed’s in no hurry, never has been, and the yarns on this album unravel with a stately grace that finds some common ground between American Primitive and the hushed 90’s indie of Low or Bedhead.

The record is mostly Ahmed alone, and it feels that way, lonesome and isolated. It’s a recurring feeling in the artist’s discography. He’s born out of a psych-folk aughts school that lionized the tortured troubadour holed up in a cabin with a 4-track by his or her side. Here he enlists at least a little help though, with Jonathan Sielaff of Golden Retriever adding some solemn sax to “Zero for Below.” Closer To Stranger finds Ahmed wrestling, as most do, with strange times and an increasing feeling of isolation in modern society. It grapples with the notion of self and, ultimately finds some sort of a resolve. As he moves further from the static of his early work and into a bit of clarity, Ahmed’s brand of burnt folk ages well and acts as a nice respite from the murky waters of social upheaval.



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