The Upshot: Shine on, you crazy diamond. A rough, ready, primal, and proud collection of lo-fi, garage-meets-metal sonic claustrophobia.
BY FRED MILLS
A bit of an indie Zelig, Imaad Wasif is of course best-known to the proverbial “mainstream” as a collaborator with Lou Barlow in ‘90s alt-heroes The Folk Implosion. But before that he’d pinged the Amerindie radar via (lower case) bands lowercase and alaska!, and he subsequently earned notches on his bandolier via his work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lykke Li, Karen O in solo mode, Stephen McBean of Black Mountain (as Grim Tower), and Spike Jonze (the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack). And along the way he’s dropped a trifecta of solo joints: 2006’s Imaaf Wasif, 2008’s Strange Hexes, and 2011’s The Voidist. With Dzi, Wasif dives into—for him—full-blown uncharted territory, and with remarkable results, the kind of career-steering left turn that could very well elevate him well beyond all prior musical endeavors in terms of his public profile.
We’re advised that the word “dzi” is taken from The Tibetan Book of the Dead and translates to “shine, brightness.” Fair enough. The mental glow spanning these 11 tracks is profound; Dzi is kaleidoscopically psychedelic. Whether or not they’re early morning sunrise tunes, however, will depend on one’s take on “psychedelic,” because I’m more likely to spin tracks like the trance-inducing, claustrophobic “Way Inside,” devastating death ballad “Marie,” and thudding mantra “Mirror Image” late at night when I’m sorely in need of a musical companion that matches my dark mood. Having a shoulder to lean on in such moments is a good thing, in case you didn’t know that, and Wasif seems to sense exactly that.
Wasif reportedly went lo-fi for this recording, utilizing the kind of Tascam 8-track cassette deck that originally spawned the likes of Guided By Voices and, of course, The Folk Implosion. Believe it or not, it’s a sonic breath of fresh air. The aforementioned “Mirror Image” has a careening, garage rock-esque vitality that’s compelling in a vintage Nuggets sense—if Nuggets tilted more to the metal side of the musical spectrum—and the thrumming, cavernous “Turn Away” brings a darkness and a manic edginess that one rarely finds in a, quote/unquote, “studio production.”
I’d follow this guy down a rabbit hole and help dig through to the other side, any day. Pressed on big beautiful thick black vinyl, the format fits the sound—rough, ready, primal, and proud.
DOWNLOAD: “Turn Away,” “Way Inside,” “Mirror Image”