Amir – Rise, from Depths, of a Preliminary State of Youth: A Change Within One in Worlds

Beirut based Audio/Visual creator Amir’s second full length release (the first of which came in the form of a photography portfolio) is a great testament to the tragedy, the inertia, the escape, and the triumph of Lebanese youth following two years in the country’s history that have demanded more from their people than most will ever have to deal with in a lifetime. Flirting with ambient, progressive, and minimalistic electronic, “Rise…” is a fully-fledged and well-articulated project that belies age and experience of production and performance. It is very much whole, with each component as vital to its success as its predecessor. As comfort and sorrow whirl around you throughout, it’s hard not to appreciate the nuance and novelty of the project as a whole.

Second on the track listing, ‘Depths’ shines about as bright as can be on the album. It reads as (the track) Kid A does on Radiohead’s 2000 release of the same name. It’s surreal, incessant, and vital, but in a way that feel’s futuristic and forward thinking. It’s a delicacy of a track, as hovering waves of synths are led by this simple yet wonderful plinking synth pattern. It’s a track that becomes very easy to lose oneself in, and a track that becomes very easy to not want to be found in either. Followed by ‘Preliminary’, a track positing the importance of art and youth in accelerating change, however imperfect, the album gradually hints towards synth-pop undercurrents that are gradually unravelling into mainstream pop of today. It’s very subtle, yes, but still very much impactful.

The short-running ‘State’, and following track ‘Youth’, gradually begin to bleed in Lebanese soundscapes that match Amir’s intention to highlight an unconstrained vitality in the youth he sees around him, namely in Beirut, and the importance he assigns to the creation and exposure of art in 2021. It washes over you, almost as though you were deep in a well with water rushing around you on all sides, swirling; but there’s a view of the stars right above you.

Then comes ‘A Change Within’, and boy oh boy what a change it is. Led by a dirty wubbing bass synth that rocks you to your core, we find a track that hits in a different way to those that have come before it. It feels more purposeful, and more direct in what it is aiming to achieve as awkwardly dissonant guitar lines fight for pride of place in the mix. It’s quite a sobering listen, perhaps even a difficult one, and yet I find it necessary to the success of the whole project. It would’ve been a lesser release without it. In his interview with RGM, Amir makes reference to a desire for change being represented in this song, and it is most definitely earnest here.

Amir’s album is not something that, normally, I would necessarily make an active effort to search out; I’ve never been drawn to ambient music in the past, and so when this record dropped into my inbox I was perhaps cautious about what I would be letting myself in for. But ‘Rise…’ has turned me right around, 360 degrees. It’s deliberate, focussed, purposeful and above all really well-crafted. Put across in the track ‘One in Worlds’, Amir suggests that “change is real when everyone believes in their own potentials and convictions and that within each lies one world”. He’s right…..and he’s got the album that backs it up.