Lafawndah - Tan

by Mark Steele Rating:7 Release Date:2016-02-05

It is an easy task to choose to listen to music that we subconsciously recognise, which may be due to personal preference, simple convenience or a self-instilled fear of moving into unknown musical territories. Many new genres have arisen in the last 6 years and some older genres revisted from the past with a slight twist included.

There are artists who like to play it safe in their work, sticking to the roads they are used to, then a whole different breed steps forward to push boundaries, simultaneously initiating a whole new movement with their creative output. The artist known as Lafawndah, fits into the new breed category without protest. She is part and parcel of the rising revolution taking clubs by storm, known as the ‘Global Bass’ or ‘Global Club’ movement.  Having recently just signed to Warp records and we have all discovered her latest recording was recorded in Fire Island NYC.  This location has certainly added a feral bite to her work, blatantly visually expressed in the striking EP cover, which portrays her as a dark femme fatale, longing to seduce you musically.

Her first self-titled EP is instant ear candy, songs ‘Butter’ and ‘Chili’ have a dancehall/reggaeton spontaneous attraction. Yet the second EP ‘Tan’ slightly changes gear from this initial sound, appearing to grapple with issues of identity in the political and ethnic sense. Lafawndah’s cultural background - Parisian beginnings into an Egyptian-Iranian family and also resided in Mexico, in addition to Iran and the United States for a while - is reflected in her musical mosaic. This seems to reinforce her striving for pushing past the given artistic protocols and templates.

We can see on opener ’Town Crier’ – a track that somehow uses a Beyoncé melody thrown over the top of what can only be described as industrial sounds, much metal is clanging, mixed with a nasally whining snake charmer flute noise weaving around the airspace.  Picking you straight up, ‘Ally’ lulls you into an expectant but not fully dropped beat. It has a crunk like overall feel. The lyrics again reflect the housed-in time at Fire Island “I am a Firefly, I’ll take you in as a firefly...”.

The Title track ‘Tan’ starts with a metallic string/percussive urge, a muffled droning and an arabesque mantra snippet. This leads into an odd metered trip-hop drop, accompanied by some intensely emotional vocals, sounding between Kate Bush and Sade. Then at some point we hear percussive effects which can only be described as lots of fists knocking the living daylights out of some wooden doors. It sounds like a battle anthem, and it is a very effective track that grows with each play. The instrumentation on ‘Crumb’ is random but the groove is quite fitting, coupling the vocal style. The drums fumble like a clown augmenting an electronic drum kit, using his props inventory.

The signing of Lafawndah to Warp records is timely, Tan an EP which does bear similarities in sound with artists already on the impressive roster, though it is a little stark in some ways. Looking at her previous EP Lafawndah seems to continue making her mark and setting her gaze upon further exploits. She wants to take you captive with her music, and entice you to join her rising rhythm revolution.

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