You’ve possibly already heard Imaad Wasif without even realising it. The Canadian has played with Yeah Yeah Yeahs (as a touring band member and support act), and has also contributed to Lou Barlow’s music (both his solo work and the New Folk Implosion) and worked on the soundtrack to last year’s Where The Wild Things Are. His third album, The Voidist, however, is the first time most European audiences will get to hear Wasif’s solo output and it’s quite an experience. Citing other astrals plains rather than other bands as influences, Wasif’s compositions inhabit a similar mystical space to Led Zeppelin in their pomp, with more mentions of spirit shrouds, seraphim, incantations, ancestral halls and astronomers than your average fantasy novel.
Musically, it falls broadly into the realm of folk-rock, as Wasif veers from the pastoral (‘Widow Wing’, ‘Her Sorcery’) to the epic (‘Priestess’, ‘Razorlike’), often in the case of the same song. Opener ‘Redeemer’ is a case in point; a Jimmy Page-esque guitar line forming the basis for the coda, giving way to a warehouse-load of soaring sound effects, before whipping back to a plucked folky idyll for the finale. It’s easy to dismiss this as the work of a sixties throwback, and in many ways Wasif does come across as something of anachronism, but there’s more to songs like the soaring ‘Fangs’, the gentle ‘Another’, the gorgeous ‘The Hand Of The Imposter (Is The Promise Of My Own)’ and the intense rifferama of ‘Return To You’ than first meets the eye, while archetypal grower ‘Our Skulls’ owes a debt to Jeff Buckley’s wig-out moments, in a good way.
In many ways, The Voidist is a frustrating listen, as Wasif is a stunning guitar player and is possessed of a gorgeous falsetto, but his lyrics are generally a little too oblique to really fall in love with and some of the arrangements are so monumentally indulgent (‘Daughter Of Fire’) as to make ‘Kashmir’ seem like a simple folk ditty.