Home Recordings

11/10/2022Beirut-Based Multi-Instrumentalist And Visual Artist Yara Asmar Releases Evocative DIY Debut Album

Truth be told, we've had this tab open in our browser for quite some time now, sensing that this was a release we would at some point get around to reviewing because it is so out of the ordinary. It just so happens that today was the day that we would hit play and let the Beirut-based multi-instrumentalist, video artist and puppeteer Yara Asmar invite us into her wondrous world. Released last month on Brighton's Hive Mind Records, her "Home Recordings 2018-2021" are just that: a collection of "music she recorded at home on cassettes and a mobile phone over the past few years."

Reminiscent of a minuscule music box, these delicate, cinematic recordings might be likened to an album of snapshots capturing life in its most furtive moments. Imagine finding such a music box hidden away in a drawer, somewhere among the personal belongings of a soul that has moved on, leaving only scattered traces of its existence behind to be discovered and interpreted by others, never revealing their true meaning, but nonetheless inspiring a world of speculation. And as the revolving cylinder begins to play its soulful, mechanical tune, a multitude of emotions arise and the mind sets sail.

Such was the sensation we had when entering Asmar's intimate, sparse yet resplendently resonant and evocative soundscapes. Each composition is outfitted with a spontaneously thought-inducing, borderline humorous and absurdly meaningful title of its own, such as "it's always october on sunday", "sleeping in church - tape 1 - i turned to tell you something but there was nothing there", "fish can't tie their own shoelaces, silly", "we put her in a box and never spoke of it again", "there is a science to days like these (but i am a slow learner)", "4 is an okay number" and "thanks for coming". Which seemingly adds context, where really none is needed because these recordings are a truly personal affair.

"On [this debut album] you'll hear her play a range of instruments including the piano, her grandmother's old accordion which she found in the attic of her grandparent's home in Lebanon, the metallophone, synth, and various deconstructed and disassembled toy pianos and music boxes. You'll also hear her field-recordings of hymns sung in churches around Lebanon which Yara has turned into waltzes. These beautifully melodic works contain recognisable elements of classical music wrapped in layers of tape hiss, synth wash, reverb and delay and disturbed by the metallic percussive sounds of the dissembled music boxes. The atmosphere of melancholy that pervades the album should be familiar to anyone living in the 21st Century," the liner notes read.

And why not just leave it at that and let this unconventional release speak for itself, allowing each track to arouse whichever feelings it may. You can now stream Yara Asmar's "Home Recordings 2018-2021" via the player below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom