There’s a moment three quarters of the way through the song ‘Monk’s Robes’ where the music transforms and Angel Deradoorian switches perspectives, casting off the guise of a confused monk on a pilgrimage to speak to God and talking in the voice of the Almighty himself. “Child of earth both mortal and blind, what do you seeketh here?” she intones over crashing organs and choirlike harmonies, “Bound to the illusion of the physical plane, what is it you truly wish to gain?”
It is a truly, literally awesome moment, the sound of an artist reaching out for something beyond what we know to brush the face of the divine. It’s just one of many such transcendent moments on ‘Find The Sun’, an album wholly concerned with belief and the human pursuit of paradise through soul-searching, internal revelation and spiritual awakening. Religious imagery is liberally applied to convey concepts outside of the humdrummery of everyday human existence - waterlilies coming out of tombs, the devil’s market selling pleasures of the flesh.
Album opener ‘Red Den’ neatly introduces this core theme of universal spirituality, as a disembodied Deradoorian flies from the incense filled churches of Rome to a variety of far-flung temples and religious sites in China, Armenia, India, Russia, Georgia, Japan and Germany. It also introduces the vital presence of jazz drummer and ‘sound healer’ Samer Ghadry, whose hypnotic, driving beats consistently ground the loftier musical ideas around them.
Nowhere is this rhythmic backbone more evident than on the twin locomotive epics that straddle the ethereal ‘Monk’s Robes’: ‘Saturnine Night’ and ‘The Illuminator’. The former is a brilliant display of pure, unadulterated krautrock that brings to mind the work of SEXWITCH, the 2015 collaboration between Toy and Bat For Lashes. Deradoorian’s voice drips with intensity, rising and falling like a possessed oracle caught in the throes of a trance, while underneath her bass throbs like a racing heartbeat. ‘The Illuminator’ boasts a similarly stark motorik beat, but paired instead with jazz flutes, electronic gurgles stolen from Radiohead’s ‘The King Of Limbs’ and spoken word passages about ‘the power of intensity’ and other such things. While the first few minutes are strangely mesmerising, after nine minutes of the one repeated refrain you will want to break that flute into piccolos.
The second half of the album is musically looser, allowing Deradoorian’s musings on the nature of things to spiral off into more psychedelic realms on tracks like ‘Waterlily’, ‘Mask Of Yesterday’ and the colossal closer ‘Sun’. Despite the churchlike harmonies and religious imagery that abounds, it’s quite clear that she views spiritual enquiry as a path to self-discovery, or, as she sings on the melancholy, Wild Beasts-esque ‘It Was Me’, “What good is a soul without a body? What good is god without your mind? You can't believe in nothing, If you can't feel what's inside”.
This record comes off the back of a difficult few years for Deradoorian, and she has talked quite openly about her struggles with isolation, self-worth and financial difficulties. Her self-imposed solitude during its gestation period (she apparently spent 10 days in complete silence at a Vipassana retreat while writing) has led to a very introspective work that somehow still feels relatable. There are not many solo artists who reflect their own personality in their music quite as honestly as Angel Deradoorian does, which is why this occasionally overblown mystical thesis can connect on such a personal, perhaps even spiritual, level.
Words: Josh Gray
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