Ekin Fil, Coda, United States, Helen Scarsdale Agency, HMS054 12″ vinyl limited edition (2020)
Based in Istanbul, drone-pop singer Ekin Fil has amassed a considerable discography since 2008 at least, with early works being self-released and more recent albums coming out on the Helen Scarsdale Agency label. I must confess it has taken me a long while to get around to listening to any of her recordings but at last I have managed to tick off the bullet point “must listen to Ekin Fil at least once” on my ticker-tape bucket list. And it’s just as well I’ve done so too, if Fil’s naming her recent release “Coda” implies her career is on the threshold of a major change: Fil has been involved in scoring music for films and it may just be that film soundtracks are going to be the major focus of her career as a composer in the near future.
The songs on “Coda” have a serious and sombre quality though at the same time there is something quite peaceful, even blissful about them. Fil’s own singing seems very breathy and whispery, as though the singer is fading before our eyes in a shroud of regret, sadness and longing while guitar shimmers around her or a lone piano melody wanders through a veil of ambient shadow. Songs at first appear to be as fragile and ghostly in form as the singing though drilling down to the details of the music I find there is usually one instrument (piano or guitar) serving as a fairly firm backbone around which the music wreathes itself. Some tracks like “Looped” feature soft showers of noise as if they were gentle showers of rain on a summer’s day.
Lesser artists might have been tempted to deliver something a bit twee and maudlin, and leaning very heavily on themes of nostalgia or longing for an idealised past but Fil delivers an album of sadness and fragility combining simple melodies, lightness and sonic experimentation within the music. Even when sad and wistful, tracks can feature plenty of musical surprises, as on “On Sand”, a very noisy track beneath the multi-tracked sighs and fragments of effects. On the whole though, the songs are straightforward in their structure and presentation, in the sense that they appear to have up to two layers of music and one of ambience, and no more. Even so, the tones can be rich and evocative, suggesting a world surrounding Ekin Fil’s music that has seen better days and is now on a long, slow, downward slide.
If a film were to be made to fit “Coda”, it would be an ethereal dreamscape of lush, layered yet fading worlds where sighing nymphs are more heard and glimpsed in youths’ dreams than seen. Shadows and darkness are ever present in the background but never seem menacing even during moments of sadness, regret and loss.