The experience of listening to Ekin Fil’s stunning new album, Feelings, is like the momentary blindness experienced leaving someplace dark and walking out into the daylight. Everything goes white; a pensive stillness takes over, time becomes momentarily infinite. Feelings is stuck there, rife with anxiety and longing, but also grounded with a stoic determination to not shield our eyes from the blaze.
Ekin Fil has been making beautiful, haunting albums for over a decade now, but the quiet intensity of Feelings is overwhelming. Rain drenches lolling piano chords on the sinuous reflections of “Infinite Space.” Ekin Fil’s voice sits in a spherical chamber circumventing the creeping glow. Clouds obscure the sun, but just barely; echoes escape into the sky and disappear. “Never Seen” treads similar waters, but from the other side. Somber passages begin sinking toward the core, the vocals like a sodden net dragging everything toward the abyss. This push/pull sentiment slinks throughout Feelings.
Throughout Feelings, Ekin Fil’s piano playing is the guidepost. It’s the backbone on pieces like “Little One” and “A Veil,” creating structures that she layers with gauzy ephemera. The languid float of synth flares and vocals encases the firm edges with a steely resolve. “Signals” repeats in slow circles permeated with a winter chill, tiptoeing across the awakening landscape. As her voice flickers over an ocean of stars across a dark blue backdrop, the nightblooms open and sing.
Feelings is a strange, enchanting environment. We’ve all visited places that were unforgettable even if we never wanted to return or see them again. Constructed in the shattering mire of 2020, Feelings is in that zone, but hearing it head on and dissecting the arcane messages woven throughout are the surest ways out of the fire.