Nabihah Iqbal

(Ninja Tune)


Ernest Hemingway’s suitcase of manuscripts misplaced in Gare de Lyon train station; The Righteous Judges, the stolen panel from the celebrated 15th century polyptych The Ghent Altarpiece; and the demos of the follow-up to David Bowie’s Blackstar. Art is inexplicably lost to the abyss at every turn. And in 2020, it was the turn of British electronic producer-songwriter Nabihah Iqbal, when her London studio was burgled – with two years’ worth of music part of the haul.

While the consequent album, DREAMER, feels its own construction, if one looks closely enough you can see the scars from the fire that consumed her lost music. Compared to her debut under her own name, 2017’s Weighing of the Heart, DREAMER is more ruminative, more mature – but crucially more fragile. 

The wondrous opener ‘In Light’ is led by a vulnerable feeling rather than anything resembling a beat. ‘Sweet Emotion (Lost in Devotion)’ erupts periodically in moody waves that portend an approaching non-event, much like the late great Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Arrival soundtrack. Perhaps most surprisingly, there are times on DREAMER when the experimental electronic sound feels overridden by a Nick Drake melancholia.

While it does occasionally go so deep into sound that it stalls, the contemplative soft-focus of DREAMER is mostly a beautiful walk along a memorial shore “where time falls like rain”.