SAMARAH – Falling Away
(2005 Samarahspace.com/Zod Records)
Minimalism and sonic exploration form the core of Samarah’s moving and poetic compositions. While this is her first full-length album, two previous EPs, These Things, released in June 2005, and 2004’s What is Beautiful, provided a taste of the aural ingenuity that Samarah brings to her work. But with this album, with the more compelling pace and flow allowed by a full-length offering, Samarah’s vision and singular talent become focused and enticingly chaotic at the same time. She manipulates your ears, pulling your mind and soul into a subtle world of digital manipulations and sonic sculpture.
Samarah maintains a control of her individuality through space and lyricism. As her voice enters the musical landscape of the first song, “Six for Seven,” the lilting tones and sultry delivery create a laidback sexual energy that is maintained throughout the album: “I give in to you / I commit virtue / I admit it’s true / That I’m into you.” As “Disconnected” builds its tonal layers, with a delicate piano emerging from beneath a sea of disembodied voices and moody pads, the short composition is haunting and beautiful, offering space for the manic presence of “Sleep So Heavy” to take you for a psychedelic journey filled with smoky dreams and sounds emerging from the corners of your mind. While lines like “A tisket, a tasket, now let’s hit it / A ricket, a racket, now let’s pass it” might seem to offer some stoned insights into the mind of this artist, the meaning is morphed by the music, creating a synesthetic manipulation that is disarming and refreshing.
As you immerse yourself deeper into these seemingly fragile constructions, the scope of Samarah’s control becomes increasingly clear. While the rhythmic presence revolves around glitchy noises and effected synths, it’s the overriding sense of space and substance that holds the form. “Fall Away” is a perfect demonstration of this concept. The ringing chimes that introduce the song mesh with manically effected samples and distant vocalizations. However, as the instrumentation becomes more focused, the incongruent elements fall into place and coalesce into a fully conceptualized and uniquely realized creation. As the track flows away and the mechanistic noises of “Crush” come into view, the chaotic element is again embraced, feeling like the scrapes of reason were replaced by anarchy. But just as the groove is seemingly falling apart, it is put back together with an exquisite grace.
This pacing, the ebb and flow, of Samarah’s hallucinatory musicianship becomes most fully realized in “Dejavous.” The lyrics depict a common experience in otherworldly sensations while the music offers a dreamlike vantage point: “I woke up on the wrong side of the world today / Seems like nothing ever goes my way… I know that I can’t even say it / I know that you won’t even play it / I can’t imagine another day behind your face.” While the imagery is at once familiar and utterly incomprehensible, so is the music. It feels like coming home after being away for years: the substance remains but the texture has changed.
As bells ring in the distance as this album comes to a close, the painting has yet to reveal its full image. The colors are all there, vibrant and in their places, but the soul is too restless to stand still long enough for your eyes to focus. The closer you look, the more the image dissolves. Maybe in the next album Samarah will conjure up a static image, but I hope not. Her grace lies in her willingness to keep reaching and evolving, mutating and morphing into something one step away from crystal-clear comprehension and one step towards something pure.