Album release: 'The Wanting Creature' by Iska Dhaaf
Release date: 27 May 2016
Label: Brick Lane Records
More info: Band website
Iska Dhaaf (taken from Somali, translated roughly to 'let it go')
In 2011 Nathan Quiroga (Mad Rad, Buffalo Madonna) and Benjamin Verdoes (Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band) left their respective Seattle-based projects behind and began collaboration on Iska Dhaaf. The band was quickly embraced for their engaging live shows, and for creating the sound of a full band by way of two people. Together as songwriters they have steadily explored production, instrumentation, and an ever-expanding narrative voice.
After the release of their debut, 'Even the Sun Will Burn', they toured across North America, Western Europe, relocated to New York, and most recently wrote and performed in Paris and Berlin. Their upcoming album, The Wanting Creature, sees the duo emerging as producers, experimenters and genre-bending artists. The new songs show an ongoing devotion to lyrical depth and composition, and the album more fully utilizes their diverse musical backgrounds. Nearly five years in, they will surprise with their innovations-taking risks one would hope to see in a sophomore album.
The Wanting Creature, the second offering from Brooklyn-via Seattle band Iska Dhaaf, is best described as profoundly vulnerable. It takes the complications of loss, depression, and instability from Quiroga’s and Verdoes’ personal lives and turns them into something beautiful. The band explains the album as an intuition or series of transmissions that surfaced slowly over the 3 years the record took to complete. It is an intricate conversation they built, deconstructed and built again. The Wanting Creature revolves around the theme of desire and how it manifests in each area of our lives, even our biology.
True to the form of their first album, the poetry and wordplay of the lyrics on The Wanting Creature is rich, nuanced and layered. Every word is carefully chosen and there is a precise subtlety that allows the lines to continually unfold new meaning and imagery. Likewise, the sounds are refreshing and distinct. The band took their early methods of composition and pushed them into a new realm of production. This was due to the band’s desire to move forward but also the spatial constraints of New York City. The arrangements are bathed in digital textures and explore entirely new sonic territory. Much like Phantogram, Liars, and other contemporary innovators, Iska Dhaaf have pushed themselves to a wider spectrum of possibilities and experimentation.
Inspired by Sufi poetry, limitation, and an obsessive preoccupation with writing, Quiroga and Verdoes have fused their seemingly disparate musical and personal backgrounds into something searching and honest. Their songs, with heavy rhythms and cutting melodic hooks, are at once infectious and sweetly disarming. Take the time immerse yourself in The Wanting Creature… 'Let it go'. You won’t regret it.