Shoeb Ahmad – Quiver Versions [Provenance Records]

Review by Vince Leigh

The capacity for experimental electronic music to reflect inner psychological landscapes is captivatingly brought to bear on this album, a reimagining of Shoeb Ahmad’s 2018 release Quiver.

The droning disaffection running through the opening track Lope sets the listener up for an enthralling musical experience, blending the elements of Shoeb’s discerning sensibilities with heightened tension and sobering energy.

Jasmine Guffond’s version of Romance follows, with the adoption of repetition and spliced vocals used to merge the real with the unidentifiable.

With Washed Air, we get a different kind of aural assault, though one that still relies on the cycles of looped backgrounds to make its point. Where Shoeb’s 2018 version of Washed Air contained some interesting moments of easy accessibility, this retake allows for that accessibility to be reached via the conduit of unwavering sound-based seduction.

A welcome change in pace ensues with the Hence Therefore version of Pinpointed with its anchoring beat manipulated to create a pulsing counter rhythm to the brooding background vocals.

The remixed Silhouette offers a more stabilising set of perimeters, which seems to allow the vocal to float more effectively than in the original, counterpointing the languid reflections with soothing balance.

Mask-ed takes the collection to minimalistic territory utilising distorted drones and interweaving whistling oscillators to provide a sense of respite that segues fittingly into Rinse which takes us back into a lush forest of synth lines and low-end led rhythms, with Shoeb’s vocal near the end allowed the space to proclaim the necessary declaration: I won’t change who I am.

MP’s version of Unwoven doesn’t obscure the vocal of the original but adds a varied set of competing rhythms that merge to provide what could be thought of as the electronic equivalent of world music, with Shoeb’s chants evoking a sense of strange intimacy.

The album’s closing track Villagers Sons reconfigures Shoeb’s first version with a hallucinatory slice of meditative ambience and perhaps rightly so, as it becomes a gesture of what is not said in the same way Shoeb’s 2018 album was so much about what is.

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