Aïsha Devi S.L.F. Houndstooth
Throughout her solo work, Aïsha Devi tends to incorporate ancient concepts – like Vedic philosophy, Buddhist throat singing and chakra awareness – in her forward-reaching, spiritually-imbued electronic music. The Swiss-born Tibetan-Nepalese electronic producer also brings in this tension on her new S.L.F. EP, the more compact and streamlined follow-up to 2018’s DNA Feelings.
The EP takes off with the sound of traditional gongs being distorted until they gradually build into grainy and swirling synth sounds on Two Serpents. By digitising and sharpening the sound of a tone that is usually so pure and enveloping, Devi collapses the antediluvian with the avant-garde, drawing upon the past in order to create something that sounds like it could be of the sinister future. The message arrives forthright on Uupar-Theory when DeForrest Brown, Jr. says in an icy, robotic voice: “Dismantle time/ Elevate upon the 3D.”
If there’s a failing of S.L.F., though, it’s that Devi doesn’t give enough room for her more heady concepts throughout the EP and some of her spoken-word philosophical musings are distorted, making it difficult to fully comprehend the message she’s trying to get across. But the vocal obfuscation seems intentional, especially considering that S.L.F. is composed of some of Devi’s best, most intense club tracks. They’re delightfully brutal when they crescendo to a satisfying climax, like on the closer The Flavor of Fire, when trance arpeggios and pounding drums seem to ascend into a glorious chaos. Even when Devi achieves moments of transcendence in her work, it sounds so jolting and visceral.