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Imaad Wasif - The Voidist

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Artist: Imaad Wasif

Album: The Voidist

Label: Tee Pee

Review date: Oct. 13, 2009

This being his third solo album, Imaad Wasif is probably tired of being referenced via his touring work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Folk Implosion and his involvement in the upcoming Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack. So we’ll get that out of the way now, and help people come to grips with his own work here.

From his folky debut through the harder-rocking follow-up to this current album, Wasif seems to have learned a thing about how to play to the crowd, generally in a good way. There are quieter moments, and interludes that hark back to his earlier work, but The Voidist is unafraid to lay it on the line and rock out, earning comparisons to everything from stadium rockers to, yes, the aforementioned bands he’s played with on tour.

Opening and closing strong, the album is well-sequenced. The eastern-tinged melodies of "Redeemer" may feel a bit as if they’re straight out of the psych-rock handbook, but that’s almost beside the point given the strength of the riff and Wasif’s smooth vocals. The changes the song goes through during its second half are also well-handled, and a good example of how even the most straightforward tracks often contain a bit more than they first appear to. "Razorlike," which closes the album and also happens to be the longest song here, moves through ghostly cadences into a forceful beat and thence through thick power chords that dissolve into foggy lyrical visions of empires. Throughout, Wasif’s guitar work -- whether it be chugging riffs, fuzz-wah leads, or gently shimmering notes -- serves as the lynchpin.

The quieter songs are scattered amongst the arena rockers and inevitably won’t receive the same attention as their louder brethren, but the pretty folkiness of "Widow Wing" and "Her Sorcery" deserve it. Wasif’s voice carries tenderness without sappiness, and the guitar work is noteworthy. While these types of folk tunes often feel like

toss-offs, on The Voidist they’re solid partners -- the exception being "Another," which is simply too empty, sandwiched between the intricacy of "Her Sorcery" and the intensity of "Razorlike."

It may be that the wide range at play here will make it difficult for many to appreciate it all, but the open-minded should find a lot to enjoy. It’s easy enough to reference the Doors here, John Phillips there, Nick Cave here, Nebula there, and one could level the criticism that Wasif isn’t focused enough to develop a singular voice. There is the danger that The Voidist comes off as a collection of songs, not an album. But for the most part they’re really good songs, and sometimes that’s more than enough.

By Mason Jones

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