Release Date: Jan 24, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock
Back in 1998, UK-based musician Leila Arab released a weirdly lo-fi yet fully formed album titled Like Weather. Its main single, "Feelings," featured bedroom soul singer Donna Paul and offered a skewed take on R&B, a genre dominated by the glossy productions of the likes of Timbaland, The Neptunes and Rodney Jerkins. Needless to say, Leila's music felt like it belonged to a world of its own, a feeling she then further developed on Courtesy of Choice and Blood, Looms & Blooms.
Four years after her stunning comeback Blood, Looms and Blooms, Leila returns with U&I, a set of songs that are as dense and direct as her previous album was elaborate and enveloping. Everything is pruned and streamlined, from her sonic palette to her list of collaborators: instead of a cast of characters that ranged from Terry Hall to her sister, Leila sticks to working with Mt. Sims, who also took the Knife and Planningtorock's music in similarly experimental directions.
DJ, producer and [a]Bjork[/a] collaborator [a]Leila Arab[/a] works at her own pace, her last album, 2008’s ‘Blood, Looms And Blooms’ appearing almost a decade after its predecessor. But her missives are worth the wait – this one whips the spliced, spooked melodies and vintage rhythms of ‘Blood…’ into new, distorted shapes that at times recall the dark textures of Prurient’s ‘Bermuda Drain’ or [a]Fever Ray[/a]’s debut. Where numerous vocalists graced the last album, now Mt Sims takes the lead, proving a fittingly perverse servant for his exacting mistress as he tackles industrial bangers (‘Welcome To Your Life’) and glacial chorales (‘In Consideration’) alike.[i]Frances Morgan[/i] .
LeilaU&I[Warp; 2012]By Andrew Halverson; February 3, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetLeila is not a name that many US residents would immediately recognize and associate with Electronic music or the IDM subset. This Iranian artist and producer, though, has gained quite a reputation for her participation with Björk on Debut, Post, and last year's bold project Biophilia, as well as the maintaining of a solo career since 1998. With the deep Björk connection as well as her past records, there has been great work to draw from, but the problem with U&I is that the material shows little of what makes her the producer and musician that she has been in the past.
Leila Arab's position as an outlier to the electronic music scene was firmly established through her 1998 debut, Like Weather. What's remarkable about that album is how cut adrift from the world it feels, with the London-based Iranian musician dragging a series of collaborators into a musical bubble that still now, some 14 years later, feels like a singular transmission from a unique talent. Much of it is eerily prescient; the curdled funk riff and stomach-churning lethargy of "Don't Fall Asleep" mirrors the kind of feeling the Weeknd have been dabbling in at the start of this decade.
The fourth album by Leila Arab is not an easy listen. In fact, none of the three that preceded it were, either. A protege of both Björk and Aphex Twin, Leila makes music that can't avoid being described as difficult. U and I is difficult in the sense of being complicated: loops of electronica manipulated and set against each other.
A batty, compelling, smart and unusual fourth LP from the Iranian artist. Luke Turner 2012 U&I is Iranian-born musician innovator Leila Arab’s fourth album, and the second for the Warp label after time spent with Aphex Twin’s Rephlex and XL. A musical life that thrives on collaboration stretches back to the early 1990s, when she worked with Björk on the Icelander’s Debut and Post LPs – and her last release, 2008’s Warp debut Blood, Looms, and Blooms, featured contributions from both Terry Hall and Martina Topley-Bird.
Leila Arab, the Iran-born, London-based electronic musician, is a methodical artist, but her methods are as equally rooted in impulse and intuition as they are in systematic thinking. Her albums take large periods of time to create—four years have passed since 2008’s acclaimed Blood, Looms And Blooms—and they often incorporate a long list of genres and influences, yet they never feel labored over or particularly calculated. Her newest album for Warp, U&I, is a collaboration with the Berlin-based DJ and musician Mt.
Iranian-born Leila Arab has operated within a firmly independent niche of electronic artistry since 1998. Making her musical debut playing live (keyboards and vocals) with Bjork, and releasing her first LP on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records, she has since found a logical home on Warp. Crackling with emotional resonance and a subversive approach to formal arrangement - and using a very broad sound palette - her tracks tend toward the submerged and reflective.