Review: Nabihah Iqbal reclaims balance with ‘Weighing of the Heart’

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Nabihah Iqbal | Weighing of the Heart | Ninja Tune

Release date: December 1st 2017

Review by Jenna Dreisenstock

Ghosts; spectral beings in limbo of a heavy heart. A levitation of internal, eternal noise; entities of our past selves, bleeding into one another. Phantasm bodies we wait – weight, the scale – light as a feather; a confession of the life we are leaving behind in order to ascend. May the heaviness of my very human, very many hearts uplift – forward into lightness, an afterlife in which to let go; the parts of us we need to shed, layers of being – built up, guarded concrete walls around the beating, blood rush. May those parts of ourselves, fall into one another and; no, they will not die, but soften the transition. Our actions a glimmering orb independent; balancing delicately; tender feather, anxious in balance. Tell me, my afterlife – the death not of oneself, the death of many selves – or rather, absorption. Ghostly ascension not out of body, but within; into the next day, the next and the after. The after; scale not of the gods, but of the recognition of oneself. Breakthrough brightness, we confess, we process; the alternative, we know. A descend into the depths of who we were, are, want to be; stagnation if the balance is shifted downward clinging. We fall; there is no hell, my love – there is no, no physical or eternal punishment for you see; hell wouldn’t be half as bad as ceasing to exist at all. We wait in the balance, our afterlife not a death but a rebirth.

An exploration of letting go of oneself; allowing a transition to the rebirth – Nabihah Iqbal allows us a glimpse into a journey of recognition; with the release of her debut album Weighing of the Heart. Formerly known under the name Throwing Shade, multi-instrumentalist Nabihah Iqbal has embraced herself, in the dreamlike soundscape of change and forward momentum. In the perfect accompaniment to concept in direct musical action; Iqbal let go of her previous pseudonym; in which she undertook as a DJ in her early musical career – to envelop herself in her truth and attach her real name to a turnover in sound; a new beginning, proudly in proclamation as a British-Asian artist. As she is making waves within the electronic community we hear as she develops and grows within her expedition into introspection, reclamation; and too, the awareness of the out of body self.

 “Wake up, it’s another day …”

A melody submersion of reverb, drenched guitars; the twilight companion of Iqbal’s lo-fi, dreamlike vocals bring us into the soundscape of ‘Something More‘. Emotive resonance, reminiscent of 80’s post-punk, synth-pop; stirs within us a stargazer nostalgia, ethereal; tiny souls flicker above, the cold air refreshes our lungs as we grasp for each glimmer; picking fruit in the gloaming. Each spark we clutch within our tired hands, a decision we make/we don’t, we hold onto/let go of – bursts apart.  

“Is nothing like it was before? We’re all searching for something more…”

The haze of washed guitar and illusory vocals break; an aural array of weaving electronics, a refreshing homage of synth-pop and layered glitches; harmonies and a twinkling glissando of the stargazer eighties; reminiscent of what we’ve come to hold dear to us in artists such as The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen and A Flock of Seagulls. A forward momentum in sound, pushing us to let go of the, yet; still flickering ashes of our past selves in paused circulation. Our fingertips glow with what once was, yet light our way if only we’re willing to open our tender fists.

Captured; echo in a chamber of pensive, yet confident hints of distortion – we are greeted to ‘Saw U Twice‘ with gritty guitars, colluding with Iqbal’s gossamer vocals in an unexpected intimacy. A recollection of city lights, gleaming in our peripheral vision as we unexpectedly catch a glimpse of those we’ve left behind; those who haven’t left out minds. Airing out our lungs in a blur of remembrance, a spark ignites in the heart; gaze met, looking down. An acknowledgement of someone once dear; presented to us as a ghost – being slipping through the fingertips, as we fumble down a city slick with rain engulfed sidewalk. Carry on, carry on. The beating through our heart in a stride of the drums, anxiety in the let go; liberation in the acknowledgment – melancholy in the reminder. The fast paced beat of the snare of a drum machine, heart beat not unlike that within us as we are reminded of the moments we once shared, guided by Iqbal’s glistening voice; distant in memory, shiver in feeling. Nervous, the faith in oneself’s independent as we continue traveling forward, fast paced stride in the release of our ghost selves presented to us; an outsider of another human soul.

“We wandered through each other’s life, just like the rivers’ constant flow and signs of life in all our eyes keep this city on the go. The sun will rise, the sun will set; seven days, five and two; from the this life into the next, we’re all just trying to make it through.”(Zone 1 – 6000)

 ‘Alone Together‘, one of the instrumental tracks on the album; leaves us in a sphere of moon-scape isolation, dreaming and yet comforted by a singing lullaby of soft new wave synths, a introspective track filled with the muse of oneself; ‘Alone Together‘; watching as others glide past us, just out of reach; projecting the mirage of other selves once lived; a film, a screen in the theatre. Surrounded by others, lulling into an introversion of themselves; the warmth of bodies supposedly to comfort us, yet oddly cold. Flash as human limbs; leave us in their scurry of the everyday, as we find our selves still and calm. ‘Alone Together‘; a part of something in which preaches isolation, a realization that the others too, come to a standstill within themselves; watching perhaps, as we flash past in an anxious desperation to move forward. Captured in the melancholia of post-rock inspired guitar, an ever moving yet ever looping wave of vulnerable melody; accompanied in turn by a gentleness in electronic timbre; Iqbal’s early post-rock influences, such as Explosions in The Sky and Sigur Ros shed their light amongst a refreshing collaboration of nostalgia, and new-wave momentum. 

“And all through midnight streets you’ll hear, how the youthful and the old; party hard to numb the fear, no one wants to feel the cold.”(Zone 1 – 6000)

Yet it is important to practice self-care; in knowing there are times in which the circulation of a new life, despite its roller coaster let go; there are, will be times in which the blood in our veins grows sluggish, our bodies cumbersome as we struggle to hatch from the sphere of our past. Slowly, an elaboration in the calm of ambience; existence in the doldrums – Iqbal’s heartache spills through the delay of her lyrics as a requiem. 

“Slowly, you tell me there’s nothing left; but you try your best.”

An internal struggle, and external connection; fighting with oneself, connecting with others. Followed by a nod to the distorted guitars of the eighties melancholia, they spill into her words as she echoes “There’s nothing left…” a juxtaposition; the melody of self-assured strings, a companionship of delicate impulse to losing control.

Weighing of the Heart speaks to us in tender, gentle dialogues; auditory seascapes of conflicting emotion as we find ourselves consciously, and sometimes unconsciously; drifting into the ocean of an afterlife; to our many selves we bid farewell, a pulled taut goodbye yet liberated release. Standing before the scale, light as a feather, heaviness of the heart. In Egyptian mythology it is said that, upon dying and entering the afterlife we are greeted with a judgement of our human existence; if  the heart is heavier than the feather, our souls are not worthy for ascension; yet there is no hell we are condemned to. The hell in which faces the cumbersome heart, exists not as the physical; but does not exist at all. In stagnation, refusal to let go of the weight we have accumulated; the submission to layers of being in which need to be shed in self-care and lightness – our existence halts, and we cease to exist at all. It is in that embrace; despite the elegy of what once was, or the struggle to reach what we strive; falling short, or the unexpected uplifts of a gentle soul – we proceed into an afterlife in which we are reborn. In which we are more real than we ever have been.

Order Weighing of the Heart by Nabihah Iqbal via iTunes

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