Saturday, June 2, 2012
Ilyas Ahmed - "With Endless Fire" (2012) [Immune Recordings]
A mere few months after his stellar collaboration with Liz Harris, better known as Grouper, Ahmed unleashed With Endless Fire, undoubtedly his crowning achievement as a solo musician. His first solo outing since 2009's Goner (Root Strata), With Endless Fire shows Ahmed "upping the ante" quite a bit, pulling his sound up from is formerly familiar boombox crackle to a warm, aged vinyl fuzz. It's an unexpected change, and yet with this cleaner approach one is able to fully appreciate the deep intricacies of Ahmed's composition, which has also gotten fuller and warmer with age. With the new inclusion of sweeping harmonium drones and a calm sort of lull which hasn't been seen since Ahmed's solo raga guitar CDr Towards the Night, With Endless Fire brings about the best of Ilyas Ahmed's dreamy guitar meditations and his later, more methodical rock percussion influence. With Endless Fire is one of those magnificent, droning albums which unearths new qualities with each new listen. Even now, months after the album's release, I find new elements of Ahmed's brilliant use of texture, and that is what makes this unique musician's approach to music that much more grand. Given the slight nature of this album, one might not notice just how much Ahmed does on this album, but, over time, his musical genius shows itself, and it is glorious.
With Endless Fire's hypnotic, forlorn, ethereal sound is as unique as it is challenging and haunting. By far one of this year's essential releases, Ilyas Ahmed has once again proven himself to be at the forefront of the psychedelic folk movement. With Endless Fire is available on LP and cassette from Chicago-based Immune Recordings. Do not deny yourself.