Darling Farah: Body
Civil Music

Body is a strikingly good debut album from Kamau Baaqi aka Darling Farah, who was born in Detroit before relocating to the United Arab Emirates. Currently ensconced in London, Baaqi composed the material for the forty-six-minute collection in a mere three months. Body fuses dub, techno, garage, and ambient into a heady hybrid, and the subtle omnipresence of hiss and crackle imbues the material with a rich textural dimensionality; the reverberant production design also gives the tracks an expansiveness that enhances their dynamic potential. A Burial-like sensibility surfaces at times, such as during “Forget It” where a muffled bass pulse moves through a bulbous haze while a lo-fi 2-step groove carves out a space within the dense mass. Many tracks indicate that Basic Channel-Chain Reaction is also an apparent reference point.

“North” opens the album in atmospheric ambient mode but begins to whet the appetite for what's ahead when its washes are peppered with a pounding kick drum and swinging beat pattern. After that restrained scene-setter, the album takes an abrupt left turn when “Realised” unleashes a punchy, 808-driven rhythm offset by the counterpoint of an industrial pattern that seems to be operating according to a different rhythm template altogether. The title cut begins promisingly with an insistent house strut enveloped in vaporous textures and then progressively adds more percussive effects as it unfolds. The album's dub-techno side comes to the fore during “All Eyes,” with melting chords and a shuffling house pulse adding the supple ambiance of a Chain Reaction release to Body; the closing cuts “Fortune Part II” and “Telling Me Everything” also find Baaqi drawing upon the Berlin label's guidebook for their hazy pumping techno.

Certain tracks do stand out for being more ear-bending than others. The throbbing garage-techno of “Curse” is repeatedly goosed by a galloping snare fill in arresting manner, the sum-total being a barrel-house chug of a groove smothered in sweeping textures. The combination of a spoken vocal sample (“This is it”) and a growling bass effect turns “Bruised” into one of the album's most unusual settings, even if one would have liked to see it turn into a full-on banger rather than remain a sound exploration. Though only twenty years old, Baaqi's no amateur when it comes to track construction. Rather than simply letting a groove ride itself out without change, he adds subtle shifts in direction throughout a given piece. During “All Eyes,” for instance, the material comes to an apparent halt two minutes into the track before just as abruptly picking itself up and resuming its journey. Such inspired touches help make Body a more-than-memorable debut outing.

July-August 2012