Album review by KevW
Because of the minimalist nature of Shoeb Ahmad's work, this, his debut album, requires as much care and thought to listen to as it did to create. With sounds this subtle it's all too easy to press play and let these songs wash over you like a gentle breeze; something that's there and you can feel and experience but after a brief moment simply fades from your mind, you become accustomed to it and the effect is lessened. So make no mistake, 'Watch/Illuminate' may provide nothing more than a gentle and seemingly uneventful background hum if you allow your mind to focus on other things, but give this record your full attention and you'll find it's more than just a harmless silence-killer.
Ahmad's work therefore, will certainly be confined to a niche market for people with the time and effort to spare to concentrate fully on the music, but those that get to know this crystal-clear and blissful folktronica will find plenty to be absorbed by. Single 'Falling Fast' is gently hypnotic, and if it feels like the calm before the storm, then rest assured it's not, this is the calm before the even calmer. There is no storm to be found amongst these ten soft and delicate pieces. 'Falling Fast' is just the sound of a cosy blanket being wrapped around you, which you'll be snugly inhabiting for the next hour or so.
There almost feels as though there's no need to differentiate between songs, each blends into the next and all are basically the same make and model, which does bring with it a certain monotony which can be slightly off-putting and there are times when you wish something, anything, different would happen. And that's the only negative side to 'Watch/Illuminate'. There are no real stand-outs, little fluctuation and not particularly any memorable moments. That said, this is an album that serves its purpose well, and while its comforting and soothing charms will be lost on many, if you can lie back, close your eyes and take in these sounds properly, 'Watch/Illuminate' feels like a wonderfully relaxing world to visit.
Shoeb Ahmad's website
Stream the album in full
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