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Natacha Atlas
The Inner & The Outer

Artist release
Review by Andrew Cronshaw

Though The Inner & The Outer is nominally an EP, the six tracks on this new Natacha Atlas release almost add up to the length of a shortish album.

It’s a bold and unusual piece of work right from the beginning with “The Outer,” where the glitching chopping-up of Alcyona Mick’s piano line had me convinced there was something wrong with the audio file playback, and anyone buying the limited-edition physical CD will be checking their CD player. But when the rhythm track kicks in and Atlas’s vocal floats over it, in a mix of English and Arabic in her distinctive Arabic vocal style, it becomes clear that it’s supposed to be like that, and appropriately very unsettling it is, expressing the ‘manifestations of fear, mistrust, anger, confusion at the discomfort experienced in a world where we no longer know how to trust our own realities’.

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Track two, “The Inner” is more limpid, with Yazz Ahmed’s flugelhorn over the piano of long-time and always impressive Atlas collaborator Mick, joined by a matrix of bowed strings from Samy Bishai, who is co-writer, producer, programmer and sound designer of the whole release. “Inner Sunset” follows in a related vein, over a slow skipping Bishai bass-line.

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“The Inner Dimension” is even slower, misty and dark in a slow velvety twilight with Ahmed’s warm flugelhorn. It’s six minutes in before the dream-like vocal enters. “Inner Stardust” is glitchy beats, and vocal fragments that in places almost seem to be morphing into the sound of flugelhorn. “The Outer” returns in shortened radio-edit form for the final track.

There are slight echoes of her 2002 Foretold In The Language Of Dreams, but The Inner & The Outer is like no other Atlas release ever.

Visit the artist online

Further reading:
Transglobal Underground - Walls Have Ears
Natacha Atlas - Mounqaliba
Xáos - Chaos
Canzionere Grecanico Salentino - Meridiana

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