RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Leila: Like Weather (digital outlets)

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RECOMMENDED REISSUE: Leila: Like Weather (digital outlets)

Were it not for the chance discovery of an Uncut magazine from earlier this year we would not have known about this album from '98 by the Iranian-born, London-based electronica artist Leila Arab.

This was her debut – recently reissued on vinyl – and Uncut singled it out in a Rediscovered column.

Like some submerged or subterranean slo-mo trip-hop compilation where each track is discrete but vaguely from the same mid-space, Like Weather is as the title suggests: changeable.

Guests arrive in the enclosed safe space Leila creates (Luca Santucci has a slightly damaged soul-blues sound in the middle-ground of Something and the heavily echoed backdrop on Knew, Donna Paul provides more distant etherealness on Feeling and Misunderstood, the latter skeletal and aquatic) and Leila's sister Roya arrives for the bristling, dark trip-hop of Blue Grace with its eerie, repeated electronic keyboard lines.

The beautiful, quasi-ambient Space, Love has an initial beat like cricket's chirping, deep space sonics and a violin part by Benet Walsh, and Piano String is a quirky, almost child-like piano piece with atmospherics.

Middle Eastern elements emerge and evaporate (Melodicore) and the whole album has an elusive, mysterious air, as if conceived somewhere eight kilometres down or in deep and lonely space.

Except for the funky Won't You Be My Baby, Baby which is beamed in from another album (and dance club) entirely. 

A producer and DJ more than a performer herself, Leila was in the orbit of Aphex Twin (who did the post-production on this and it appeared on his Rephlex label), Bjork and Martina Topley-Bird, and this album appeared in many best-of lists in '98.

Well worth checking out.

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You can hear this remastered album (with bonus tracks) on Spotify here but the remastered vinyl doesn't appear to be in any New Zealand record stores although it can be ordered on CD



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Graham Dunster - Jul 12, 2021

Assumed she was the same Leila as a cd I have but apparently not, mine is "Leila Forouhar (born 1959 in Isfahan, Iran) is an Iranian pop singer. She started her career as a child singer in 1961. Relocated to Turkey in 1984, then Paris and finally to Los Angeles. Discogs is a useful resource.
Yours is indeed interesting.
What to do with all those old music magazines - maybe a column for the future?

Matt Dalzell - Jul 13, 2021

One of the most brilliant tracks is Underwaters, in which a tense, febrile guitar and crushed drums has a gorgeous bass run dropping through it like a sonic waterfall. It was something she came back to on an equally eclectic album, Blood Looms and Blooms, notably Mollie, and Mettle, with some superb song structures again with Roya Arab and Martina TB. In a genre which can underwhelm with Portishead derivatives and reductive pastiche, she's a genuine innovator and grossly underappreciated. Like Costanza, and Sevdaliza.

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