Imaad Wasif, The Great Eastern Sun: Meditations on Seeking and Solace ~ Ryan Muddiman
There will always be comparisons made, upon hearing new music, to the familiar: the sounds, songs, and musicians that have either influenced us personally or the world of music as a whole. It’s an inevitable occurrence. If you’re a music lover, it simply happens. It’s when we hear a host of similarities in one musician that invoke an unnameable sense of familiarity beyond that of the influences we perceive…that creates something larger than the sum of its parts…that feels like a life-long friend…that’s when something special happens. That’s what Imaad Wasif has done on his most recent release, Great Eastern Sun, which was self-recorded in 2012, but held back for release by Wasif for deeply personal reasons. Until now.
In what seems like a throwback approach – in a world where twelve to fifteen songs on an album tends to be the new norm – Wasif manages to somehow pack more memorable moments of depth and transcendence in ten songs than his contemporaries might with far more.
There is something here for any true lover of songcraft, with glimpses of: Floyd, Bowie, The Beatles, Jeff Buckley (at his most sparse and ethereal – think All Flowers In Time), and even Morrissey (on the third track, Swan Song). In spite of this, and certainly to the favor of the album, the similarities are not explicit and by no means bound by or to them.
There’s a paradoxical thread running through the entire album. And for those who delight in the complexity of thought and song, it proves to be a wellspring of elation. There are moments when the composition of a song presents itself as simple and repetitive, yet as dense as audible basalt. Such is the case with the opening track, God Is Not A Mountain. Steadily strummed acoustic guitar in 4/4 time opens the track, whereupon layers are added with an eloquence that belies our expectation, until we find ourselves fully immersed in sound by the end of the track.
Imaad Wasif-God Is Not A Mountain
Another example where seemingly opposite ideas collide are found in the lyrics. Imaad’s lyrics are vulnerable. There’s an undeniable realization that he is a seeker of truth, and as such, must possess an immutable strength to arrive at the solace of the truth found in his lyrics. After all, isn’t it the most vulnerable among us who possess the most strength? One of the numerous times this is experienced is in the aforementioned Swan Song:
“There are times I know who I am
there are times I know where I’ve been
there are other days that I don’t know anything”
Having mentioned Pink Floyd, I would be remiss not to expound upon the most stark of offerings on this album. Unhinged closes this journey of sound and thought in the darkest of moods. And that’s more than alright. Take a drink of that moment below.
There will surely be some who feel that such a release might be considered bold. But is it? Is it brave? Is it bold? Does it take something exceptional to release an album like this? For the sake of humanity, I think it isn’t. On the contrary, I believe it takes what most people seem to forget: we’re all human, having human experiences. At our most human and humane moments, we’re seekers. We’re vulnerable. We’re expressive. We’re momentary blips that, when we’re fortunate, are able to express an honesty about what it means to be an open nerve, ripe for both receiving and transmitting. And that’s precisely what Imaad Wasif has gifted us in this release. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Released on Nomad Eel Records and available now digitally. Pre-orders for the vinyl versions are also currently available, with the physical release occurring mid-late September. A cassette version will be released for Cassette Store Day, October 13th.
Noma Eel Records-Imaad Wasif: Get this music!
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