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Leila Abdul-Rauf's New Solo Album Is a Dark Storm of Ambient Introspection

Stream the prolific extreme metal (and otherwise) musician's brooding, ambient new solo album, 'Diminution.'
Photo by Nathan A. Verill

Bay Area multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and lyricist Leila Abdul-Rauf is one of the extreme and experimental music scene's great, under-sung, polymathic talents. She's left her fingerprints on essential releases from the likes of high-decibel heavy-hitters Vastum, Ionophore, Cardinal Wyrm, and Hammers Of Misfortune, and expanded her repertoire outwards towards the stars with her growing catalogue of melancholy, ambient-minded solo works.


Her latest effort, the brooding, ephemeral Diminution, sees her channel urban loneliness and emotional blight via a combination of delicate guitar, brooding trumpet, textural drones, eldritch chimes, and her own spare, startlingly sweet vocal stylings, which float above the mire like newly freed souls. There's a sort of warm surreality to it; the horns on "Abjure" remind me of nothing more than The Wicker Man's doomed village procession, and claustrophobic closing track "Light Rising" sounds like it was recorded by mythic sirens in the belly of a submarine. It's a gorgeous album, the kind of thing you'd put on when the clouds have gathered outside, your heart's started to ache, and your last good lightbulb starts flickering

“By way of a desolate train yard at night, forgotten objects in an abandoned room, and other near empty spaces past and present, I bring my third offering, Diminution: the diminishing value of art forms and processes, individual expression, and even human life itself to almost nothing in this 21st Century world, is like a fading out, or creative death on a large scale," Abdul-Rauf told Noisey. "In spite of this, a grounded psychic core remains in the void: a sense of freedom in the renunciation of all that is concrete. Some would say this is dark and lonely music, with urban overtones, while others feel a sense of otherworldiness and calm in its shimmering moods. I appreciate and welcome each individual's interpretation of the most personal music I make."

Diminution will see digital release on April 13 and physical release on May 11, on LP through Cloister Recordings in conjunction with Black Horizons, and on CD through Malignant Records. Listen to it in its grey-blue entirety below.

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