Boomkat Product Review:
Another record that arrived just on the cusp of strange times™ and sold out before anyone really had a chance to notice, Laila Sakini’s ‘Vivienne’ is an intimate collection of threadbare songs for piano, voice and effects that evoke a tremendous sense of melancholy - like a set of half-remembered earworms drifting into view decades later. It's an album that provided us with a strong sense of presque vu - a feeling of being stood on the verge of some great inner realisation - and is perhaps the most vital and real re-configuration of traditional singer-songwriting we’ve come across since Grouper’s 'Dragging A Dead Deer' re-aligned dreampop/shoegaze signatures into something much more intangible and personal. For those of you who realise that not all quiet music should be tagged “Ambient”, this is perhaps the most important intimate listening 2020 has to offer.
‘Vivienne’ is full of plaintive and uncooked recitals adorned with minimal effects - some delay, the sound of distant clattering filling in as percussion - with results that are substantially more than the sum of their parts. Sakini creates a fully insulated and self sufficient soundworld that operates on its own intimate logic. Bits of it remind us of the last few seconds of Cranes' ’Tomorrow’s Tears’, or what Britton Powell describes as “wallpaper; ornate and repetitive” in his liner notes to Dominique Lawalrée perfectly formed 'First Meeting’ - another apt frame of reference.
On album closer ‘Butterflies' Sakini’s vocal plays a more prominent role, although still distant and layered, somewhere in very vague proximity to Grouper albeit less aware of its audience. There’s an almost baroque, merry-go-round feeling to it, like a once forgotten dream recalled with lucid clarity for a split second, before slipping out of grasp for eternity.