sat 22/06/2024

Album: Nailah Hunter - Lovegaze | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Nailah Hunter - Lovegaze

Album: Nailah Hunter - Lovegaze

A disconcerting dive into mystical folk

Nailah Hunter's 'Lovegaze': spacey

Nailah Hunter’s debut album occupies a domain where trip-hop, Lana Del Rey were she recording in a deep, echo-filled cave and ambient-slanted pop overlap. There’s a kinship with FKA Twigs and Julia Holter, but Hunter’s propensity to channel what feels like a mystical experience means that Lovegaze is more inscrutable than what’s generated by first impressions.

Her voice is distant, a low-ish soprano set in a wash of synths. Pattering percussion and the glissando of her Celtic harp pierce the aural mist. On the relatively sparsely arranged “Adorned” – which has a slight Alice Coltrane feel – she seems to be singing an elegy inspired by something “burning brightly” which “breaks the barriers of all we know.” Fittingly, she sings here of space – and Lovegaze is very spacey.

Considering Hunter’s background and the nature of the album’s creation, it’s fitting there is a lot to unpick. She is Manhattan-born, based in Los Angeles and is the daughter of a Belizean pastor. She has studied music at CalArts, where her main instrument was the harp. While there, she became fascinated with Alice Coltrane and Erik Satie. Since 2020, she has hosted the tellingly titled Astral Garden show on the East London internet radio station NTS. Her music has been heard in the TV series The Lazarus Project, and she has composed for a NIKE ad and the digital novel The Quest of Evolution. Apple has used her music. Lovegaze was written in and, a year later, recorded in Southsea on England’s south coast. She characterises her music as “mystical folk and ambient-inspired.”

Lovegaze is dreamy. Nonetheless, there is evidence for steel. During the hypnotic, Anna von Hausswolff-esque closing track “Into the Sun” she sings ”I dream of beheadings, and goose feather bedding on fire.” Perhaps, then, it is unsurprising to learn that another of her fascinations is runic magic. Dive in, but prepare to be unsettled.


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