How can ether move at sharp angles? How can angular sonic marks drift free without disappearing? Laila Sakini finds a way with the debut Princess Diana of Wales album. “Watching the future wash away,” her voice calls from the hollows over a chorus of stilted guitars and soft rain showers on “Still Beach.” “Giving it up to have this day,” the world is disintegrating and the future is bleak, but this moment right now still matters no matter if tomorrow is an opaque swamp.
Few artists sculpt emotive landscapes with the minimal precision of Sakini as though she’s whittled away every possible extraneous snippet until only the rawest, most powerful notes remain. Barren worlds, no matter how stripped down, still carry remnants of past lives. Sometimes these ghosts break the surface, like the dub-inflected spirit of “Exhaust” pulled along by gossamer vocal layers and bass lines pulled from the abyss. “Fragments of Blue” drowns in the impermanence of self-inflicted loss. Stuck in the lilting melodies, a strange beauty spreads across the rhythmic architecture.
Sakini isn’t necessarily trying to drag us down into the swirling, enchanted void, but the gravity is too strong to resist. Even if we’re focused on the remnants of our lives stuck in the wreckage of the house that burned down, the rain is fascinated by the smoldering ashes. Blinders haunt the echoes of “Closer” like memories haunt our own attempts to move ahead, but maybe if we close our eyes hard enough we can dream it all away and find a different kind of tomorrow.