Darling Farah's Body does not sound like a debut LP. In most cases, artists gleefully approach their debut full-length as an opportunity to expand on their established talents—a chance to show off their range—and, in doing so, usually end up with a collection of tracks jam-packed with ideas. With Darling Farah's debut, this is not the case. Instead, Body is very much a record that is intensely focused, an effort icy in its dedication to texture, rhythm, space, structure, and detail. It is also a record built around repetition, seemingly asking for a similar amount of focus and patience from the listener as the producer likely put into the work himself.
Last year, Farah released a pair of impressive EPs, Exxy and Division, which in some ways foreshadowed Body with their stripped-back take on house and techno (along with the occasional flecks of bass thrown in). Still, the London-based producer (who, it should be said, was born in Detroit before eventually relocating to United Arab Emirates and then to England) has clearly trimmed the fat off his earlier works to get to this point, landing on a style that takes an efficient, no-spare-parts approach to textured house and techno, with the faintest touches of Midwestern soul folded in. Every single cut on Body is remarkably lean, at most utilizing a handful of perceivable components to accomplish the final product. Only a couple of basslines are offered up here, and a majority of the tracks come without a snare or clap, relying on percussive—at times crunchy—kick drums and hi-hat patterns to push the songs forward. From this formula, Farah produces a surprising number of potent, dancefloor-aimed productions—the title track layers filtered masses of sequenced chords over a skipping beat for the album's most Detroit-reminiscent effort; "Curse" tears through four minutes with an overdriven kick drum, rattling percussion, and ghostly pads pulsing at 130-plus bpm; and "Realised" offers the only real bassline-oriented tune, as a punchy, deep synth rides the fine line between bouncy bass and tuned-low end percussion while a miniature beat and a droning chord churn below.
Body is most engrossing when Farah's tracks are more sunken and tilted. Often these songs take on slightly off-kilter rhythms that can seem a bit obtuse at first, but reveal the sense in their patterns as they are allowed to repeat. Songs like the opening "North" and "All Eyes" present only their drums to hold on to, carefully placing sampled chords and ghostly pads in select spots while leaving even more room in between the beats. The massive amount of sonic space left open by Farah plays a large part in making the album's 11 efforts so striking—the intricacies of the percussion sounds, the breadth of the rich chordal tones, and the descending trails of the dense delays and reverbs are left hanging in these open spaces, allowing for an uninterrupted examination. Fortunately, Farah's sounds are largely flawless and so immensely detailed that these elongated chances to take them in are certainly welcome. This is perhaps most true on the LP's third cut, "Fortune," which begins as a mere whisper of slowly spinning, filtered notes floating unchanged until it is joined by the most lopsided of beats. Essentially, this track is built off two repeating patterns, and it is Farah's minute sonic adjustments and tweaks which make it an enthralling listen from beginning to end—a subtle yet valuable talent Farah shows a clear understanding of throughout his long-player.
It's hard to tell if the sonic guidelines which shape this LP are Darling Farah stepping into his signature sound, or just a stop along the path in a still-budding production career—after all, the kid is only 20 years old. At this point, both scenarios seem plausible, but either makes for a strong artistic statement and a surprisingly mature debut full-length.
(Album stream via Dummy)