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Published on October 11th, 2017 | by voxx

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Rostam – Half-Light

A complex and rewarding solo debut from the former Vampire Weekender…

If you don’t know Rostam Batamanglij by name, you almost certainly know his music. He co-founded NYC indie band Vampire Weekend, and since leaving that band last year he has emerged as a kind of Mr Fixit for alternative pop, putting his talents at the service of Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean, Haim and Solange, as well as releasing a collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser.

Yet this enigmatic solo debut shows he’s far from played out, creating a stylistic hall-of-mirrors that refracts modern styles (R&B, electronica) through classical arrangements and Eastern percussion. He says the album was informed by his experience growing up as the gay son of immigrant parents, so it’s appropriate that it’s a wonderful stylistic jumble.

Unsurprisingly, fragments of VW-like melody still glimmer, not least on ‘Bike Dream’, but from the wild saxophone that punctuates ‘Rudy’ to the way the blurred, allusive vocals on ‘Gwan’ contrast with the lyrical precision of former bandmate Ezra Koenig, it feels like a step into a brave new world. The result is a gloriously unpolished and big-hearted pop record.

- By Jake White


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