The Abbasi Brothers: Something Like Nostalgia

Dynamophone Records deems itself a purveyor of “euphonic music” and that's a pretty astute characterization of its output, of which The Abbasi Brothers' debut album Something Like Nostalgia is the latest sterling example. It's the work of Yousuf and Amman Abbasi who used digital tools, electronics, guitar, piano and found sounds to craft a fifty-seven collection of grandiose and melancholy soundscapes. Keyboard melodies of iridescent sparkle blend with ambient washes, guitar shadings, and programmed beats in fifteen shoegaze-inflected vignettes that'll have some listeners remembering the glory days of The Cocteau Twins' Blue Bell Knoll and other albums. If there's a secondary reference that's as strongly felt, it's Boards of Canada. Hardly surprisingly (given the album title), much of The Abbasi Brothers' music exudes a hazy quality reminiscent of Geogaddi and The Campfire Headphase (e.g., the dreamy themes that echo throughout “The Social Evening (in 1992)” and “Fragments of Memories as a Child,” suggestive of memory's ability to transport one back in time so effortlessly).

The overture “Stacy's Day Parade” opens in a streaming haze of electronic squalor before a limpid piano melody—so simple yet beautiful it'd make Sigur Rós envious—pierces the haze. The tracks that follow alternate between epic, even tumultuous settings that breathe shoegaze fire (“The Way of the Wanderer,” “Playtime in Spacetime”) and relatively quieter settings that possess a pronounced melancholic edge and wistful ambiance (“Kompa,” “Something Like Nostalgia”); hip-hop beats in “Dreams of a Graffiti Artist” add a funky edge to the proceedings. The heaviest “Approaching the End” pairs the slow-burn of molten guitars with heavy drum crunch while the softest is the elegant, piano-laden dreamscape “Clouds Are Sleeping.” Though admittedly derivative in certain respects, Something Like Nostalgia still distinguishes itself as a solid addition to the Dynamophone catalogue.

August 2008