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Music

Leda Maar: Stairway 13 (digital, Mana Records, August 2022)

Back in 1996, when I was hoovering up half the output of Ninja Tune, there was an album that came out on their NTone imprint. It was called 15 Levels Of Magnification, and it was the debut album by someone called Neotropic. It was kind of a darkly atmospheric downtempo breaks record. I loved it then, and I’m still really fond of it. In fact, as it happens, I stumbled across it a few weeks ago, in the way that you might chance across an old friend, and we spent a happy hour together.

It turns out that Neotropic was a woman from the Cotswolds named Riz Maslen, and she is now recording as Leda Maar. It also turns out that her first release under that name is a cracker. The beats are gone, the dark atmospherics remain. I suspect that there’s a bunch of field recordings in here — something which I gather that Maslin was doing back in the ’90s, before everyone and their dog got into it. There are swirling electronics, semi-humanized by wordless vocals. Then, startlingly, there is a brief poetic incantation, multi-tracked in a way that makes me think of a Greek chorus, and with the power of a spell. This is bold, striking music that defies easy categorization but richly rewards open-minded listening.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal.

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