Eight years is a really long time in music. When an artist waits the better part of a decade between releases, they paint themselves into a corner. Either they come back with more of the same, a refinement of their sound, usually met with a shrug and a “That’s it?”, or they can take a gamble and do what Amirali has done – reinvent.
Those heading into the producer’s new album anticipating the funky four-to-the-floor beats of his 2012 debut In Time will leave feeling disappointed. Trial & Error’s ambient, avant-garde soundscapes make for a less immediately gripping listen. Give it time, though, and its suffocating emptiness will enrapture you.
Being aware of Amirali’s journey up to now, Trial & Error sounds like a truer expression of himself. Its pared-back yet immaculately structured arrangements suddenly come into focus when you discover his background is in architecture. His training as a classical pianist shines on tracks such as ‘A Fly In Your Tongue’ and ‘Vertigo’, where glistening keys poke through a haze of pads and distorted vocals, and particularly on devastating closer ‘Last Secrets’. Bereft of all but the subtlest electronics, it’s an appropriately stark note to end the album on.
As withdrawn as Trial & Error can sound at times, it never feels impersonal. Rather, after eight years, Amirali has returned with an album that sounds like nothing else out there – an album no one else in the world could have made.