Worldly chill out vibes with humble humility.
British-Iranian producer Hiatus has moulded together both the modern world of beats with his Iranian roots with ‘Distancer’. It is incredibly difficult to get chill-out music that borrows from traditional instruments to not feel like a yoga background track. Hiatus manages this by making the music far more emotive and cathartic than simple drones and little motifs. The result is an album that feels like a humble experience.
‘Distancer’ is bookended with two spoken word infused tracks. One from a young girl and one from Hiatus’ own father. Both speak of their love for their neighbours and the world around them. When mixed with low key synths, reverb-drenched piano and evocative strings, these pieces feel like a restful breeze. They offer peaceful moments of pause and gratitude in what is otherwise a lush and vibrant world of music designed to wash over you. What I mean by that is that the electronica elements are quite subdued and soft so it is not a thumpa-thumpa that is going to vibrate your bones. Instead, the keys, strings, vocals and augmented acoustic instruments are the central focus. Add in seagulls, waves and other effects and you have a hazy mix of electro-acoustic world music to get lost in.
Malahat sings on three of the songs on the album and her voice is stunning. Hiatus knows when to let her emotional dynamics take centre stage and when to blend her into a surge of zithers or strings. ‘Your Place Is Empty’ evokes Iranian Lisa Gerrard vibes whilst ‘Shadowless’ is a darker Moby-like piece. ‘At The Gates’ is a powerful emotional vocal, string and synth moment that feels devotional and heavenly. Every note glistens and Malahat’s voice surges through like a lightning bolt.
Elsewhere, it is the Iranian violin – the Kamancheh – that absolutely steals the show. Whether it is being broody in the dark electronica of ‘Mercy’, symphonic in the mechanical ‘People in Buildings’ or lamenting in the modern classical epic ‘Semblance’ – its charm is undeniable. How Hiatus can make the Kamancheh sound both so elegant and so passionate simultaneously is beyond me. It just works though and elevates every single song.
‘Distancer’ is a perfect album for early morning relaxation. Lights down low. Glass of wine. Let your mind wander around. Yes, you can use it for your yoga practice (and no offence to yoga music, you are great) but I used it for an early morning walk at the weekend and was charmed from start to end. I felt more appreciative of the world around me and I walked faster to the beats too – win-win! Chill out music sometimes gets a bad wrap. Hiatus is easily one of the top tier producers out there making sure it gets the respect and attention it deserves. Wholesome and a real grower too. I’m glad I waited a few listens before reviewing it as the journey becomes clearer with each spin.
Favourite track: Your Place Is Empty
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