Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Yusuf Azak - Turn On The Long Wire

As a general rule I hate using cliches like 'he has a real Marmite sound'. However, Yusuf Azak has a real Marmite sound. His rasping voice and perplexing guitar plucking is certainly an acquired taste, lucky it is a sound I more than take to and have been looking forward to his debut LP for quite some time. I actually halfheartedly tried to get Yusuf to release this album on my non-existent record label a while back, I am glad he decided not to as I reckon I would have royally fucked it up. Instead, he is releasing with the finest purveyor of good underground Scottish music, Song, By Toad Records. I think he made the right choice. Sniff, sniff.

From the opener 'Your Story' it is evident that Azak is hardly reinventing his sound from his first two eps. However, there is a real growth as there seems to be a new spritely exuberance and warmth about the song. What I always like about Azak's songs is that his lyrics are often semi-audiable due to his almost lisping accent, but when you listen closely his turn of phrase is as good as anyone else in Scotland at the moment. 'Time to Kill' ushers in an almost pre-war string sound to the fold which is both enchanting and rather haunting. 'Rosalie' uses two components of Azak's sound to great effect as the lush backing vocals sound best next to the juxtaposition of the sharp twang of his Spanish guitar. Now, I kind of hate myself for saying this but probably the closest thing Scotland has to a chillwave anthem (UGH!) is 'The Key Underground'. It definitely has the backbone of a dance song placed on a folky backdrop and is certainly my favourite song on the album. It sits oddly well in the tracklisting considering the difference in it's sound compared to the rest of the album and I would have been a little disappointed if it didn't feature. Next on the album is a trio of extremely strong tunes, 'Thin Air' 'Stepping Stone' and lead single 'Eastern Sun'. All are, again, so distinctive to Azak and even if I wanted to make the common blogger comparisons to other artists I really can't. I have heard Nick Drake banded about a lot when people are trying to grasp Azak's sound but I don't think that is accurate as Azak, I feel, is not as restrained as Drake and is certainly more inventive with fewer instruments.

What Yusuf Azak has achieved with 'Turn On The Long Wire' is a solid and enchanting debut album. It is not a necessarily short album but it feels like a very short listen, which I suppose is a very good thing indeed. Time flies when you are having fun. Well I opened with a cliche, I may as well fucking close with one!

Yusuf Azak - The Key Underground

Yusuf Azak - Stepping Stone

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