Laila Sakini‘s new self-released EP feels like a reflection of trying times. Where the collaboration with poet Lucy Van was an exercise in restraint, Like A Gun‘s engrossing, dreamlike ambient continues in this same vein, albeit in a comparatively anguished and emotionally wrought fashion. Both tracks are shrouded in the same sombre malaise seemingly infiltrating society on virtually every level. You’re made to feel Sakini’s pain, disheartened by everything from the bushfires ravaging her native Australia – having grown up in an area directly affected, 50% of proceeds will go to the CFA and Wildlife Victoria – to the current state of global politics.
The emotions felt are also indicative of the music she’s been listening to, with the London-based DJ, producer and sound curator picking out tracks that both inspired the release and mirror a collective sense of apathy, frustration and sadness felt by many worldwide.
“Although I’m a DJ and have an appreciation for a wide spectrum of sound – I always found when it was home time, or maybe more specifically when it was time for me to actually write music that I moved toward songs that conveyed despondency.
So in drawing up this playlist I thought of both the music I was listening to around the time I produced Like A Gun – and the sort of songs I personally turn to when times are tough, as they are right now for so many in the world.” – Laila Sakini
1. Coil – Who’ll fall?
Devastating, big Coil track – who all the fans are aware of I’m sure – tradegy written all over it. I’m sure the lyrical content (which is disturbing I should warn) gives most people the chills, but for me, as with most of the songs in this list, it’s the guitar riff that I find most disarming, fading away at the edges, with nothing reassuring underneath. A use of “space” that I feel is a compelling way to convey that empty feeling you’re left with after loss.
2. F ingers – Escape Into The Bushes
Downtuned guitar with maximum bleak potency this was the first F ingers song I ever heard, and it really captured and combined feelings at the time in Australia that I’d never heard expressed (in music) elsewhere. A mixture of nature, grunge, machines, melancholia with an eerie google maps surveillance video of suburban, rugged bush – it definetley aroused intrugue at the time – now when I listen it stirs up brutal visions of the current and potential future landscape of “the world” but especially Aus.
3. Susumu Yokota – Floating Moon – Distant Sounds of Summer
Yokota was introduced to me by my environmentalist mother early on in, the guitar in this song always got me, an understated sadness, the guitar sort of falling out and reluctantly picking up to carry on. For Yokota – who wrote very gracefully about the environment – I’m sure this song references nature in Japan, but for me it reminds me very much of home: strumming my brothers guitar, the musical/environmental influence of my parents and, now, the fragility and beauty of my forest based home – where I wrote a lot of music.
4. Woo – Wallpaper
This song triggers a very specific memory for me – a summer about 5 years ago, extreme heat, the asphalt vapours emanating from a particular part of the road in Carlton (inner north Melbourne). I had totally forgotten about the song until recently, although it’s clearly radiant and underpinned by the good and positive will of the Woo brothers, for me it’s still a kick in the guts summer sadness song that reminds me of permanent loss – appropriate now for the worst reasons, I find I’m revisiting this and other Woo songs a lot again right now to get that happy/sad balance.
5. Tarquin Manek – YL HOOI – The Smoke in Your Eyes
The track has a bit more guts in it compared to the others, relatively new from a (very good) compilation largely unheard outside of Aus. It’s got all those scratchy, earthly/tribal elements that Tarquin’s production is good for, but with a brooding guitar strum and YL HOOI’s silky vocal. This song feels right to listen to at the moment, like a call to action within a desolate sci fi scene. This one gives me a bit of pep.