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Fatima Yamaha Imaginary Lines Magnetron Music


Sleeper hits are rare these days. Music moves fast and popular tracks are rinsed until the hive-mind moves onto the next piece of 21st century club ephemera. This makes the slow rise of Fatima Yamaha’s What’s a Girl To Do? all the more extraordinary. Released in 2004, the song had limited impact outside of Glasgow and Belfast. These scenes kept it alive, until it reached broader audiences when Hudson Mohawke included it in his 2009 Essential Mix. Throughout 2015, its popularity grew greater, with Dekmantel eventually re-releasing it in June. Prompted by the resurgence, Yamaha is back with this album of new material.

Shot through with the same contemplative, occasionally other-worldly and melancholic aesthetic that so succeeded in What’s a Girl To Do?, Imaginary Lines reaches for those heights again, but doesn’t quite get there. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good album. Borderless II has a bass line bouncier than a pneumatic drill on flubber, pleasant Detroit pads and some of those ‘Ah’s you might recognise from cheap keyboards. Sazak Bay employs the same sound, but with greater nuance, the faux-naif vibe adding to the strange, hyaline beauty. Imaginary Lines and Sooty Shearwater are emotive, well-constructed songs too, but there’s nothing with the upbeat but ultimately melancholic appeal of Bron’s anthem. And there are a couple of duds. Love Invaders is perilously close to the smug ‘e-funk’ of Soul Clap, and Night Crossing feels like a box-ticking exercise as the token ‘experimental’ track on the album.

Taken as a whole, though, Imaginary Lines doesn’t feel like a cynical cash-in on past talent. Instead, the album rounds out a career renaissance. This is a producer who made a track over a decade ago – a track that had a life of its own – and who still has something worth listening to. Here’s to the next 11 years.

Stream the album here.