Monday, 16 January 2012

Ishq - And Awake Review

Artist - Ishq

Album: And Awake

Label: Interchill

Release Date: 18th Nov 2011

I must confess that I was completely ignorant of Ishq prior to listening to this album.

Ishq are Matt Hillier and Jacqueline Kelsey and are based in St. Ives, Cornwall. The name Ishq derives from the Arabic word to describe Love. In Islam’s Sufi and mystic doctrine it is a concept that refers to ‘divine love’ i.e. man’s love for God.

My first impression was the beautiful cover for the album. The silhouette of a whirling dervish dancer framing the sunset colours of the ocean within.

This is a body of music that welcomes you right from the start with open arms- Like a half remembered dream on awaking that leaves you with a warm smile on your face.

Since being sent this album it has been a constant on my stereo and I-Pod. This music has accompanied me on early morning walks across the park with the winter sun low in the sky; watching the snow fall slowly through my bedroom window. It has eased me into sleep and prepared me for the day to come. The music seems to draw its influences from various parts of the world but never sounds contrived. It is always lush and natural, warm and expansive.

An album this strong as a whole it seems churlish to single out any particular tracks but I’m going to risk it! ‘Leaf’ with its introduction of soft lapping water, and soft gentle beats puts me in mind of ‘Life before Land’ by Another Fine Day. High praise indeed as it’s one of my all time favourite albums of ambient music. The haunting, melancholic feel to Blue Drop with its oriental flutes and otherworldly vocals is quite simply breath taking.

This is an album of sublime textures and multi layers that will transport you to somewhere tranquil and serene. 
I will be seeking out more of Matt and Jacqueline’s music.

Reviewed by Matthew Foord

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