the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Leila – Blood, Looms and Blooms (Warp)

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Leila’s Blood, Looms and Blooms is like an invocation to the senses – a hand that reaches out from the complex, gnarled roots adorning the album cover to pull you into the realms of playful imagination. Leila Arab’s debut for Warp, her first release in over seven years, excites in its lushness and challenges in its diversity. A measured, perfectly crafted progression from fantasy-like beginnings through to a deeper, darker midsection is Leila’s key achievement, managing to tie in a range of guest vocalists seamlessly across a range of styles.

No aesthetic seems too far fetched for Leila; ‘Teases Me’ evokes a soulful, seductive hymn as Luca Santucci’s vocal rides along waves of bass, twitters and cymbal sparks. Further on, jaunty ‘The Exotics’ lapses into a mini-operetta whilst the cover of ‘Norwegian Wood’ is rather excellent simply because it so cleverly subverts the original without removing the key to its familiarity. Terry Hall’s vocal at first sits oddly beside the whimsical seaside feel of ‘Time to Blow’ yet sounds intrinsically at home after repeated listens. ‘Mettle’ is perhaps the most obvious link to the swagger of her mid-90s trip-hop origins, drenched in clanging guitars and heavy acerbic bass.

Leila’s sound is so incredibly full – which is in part due to the exquisite production. Every nook and cranny of the aural space is filled to bursting with intense detail. It is there with the faint sound of a piano reverberating through an expansive hall on ‘Young Ones’, a yearning that lingers long after it is enveloped by a rowdy applause. Again it rears its head on ‘Mollie’ as tweaks and twinges whirl their way to an exquisite climax. Finally, the delicate duet by Martina Topley Bird and Terry Hall on ‘Why Should I’ brings Blood, Looms and Blooms to a close, and with it, an intense desire to revisit Leila’s fantasy world all over again.

Cyclic Defrost

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Written by lexstatic

July 2, 2008 at 10:19 pm

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