It’s in the flux of the current state of events that many creators have become more introspective of their art, re-approaching not only why and what their understanding of their contribution is, but what it could become. For some producers, its stood as a moment of introspective clarity to explore new avenues of their work. And with clubs, festivals and other dance venue hot-spots unavailable to host touring musicians for a now nondescript amount of time, a clever moment for the opportunists among them to release considerably more experimental bodies of work. It’s within the upper echelon of these varying degrees successes that the Adelaide-based Moutaiz Al-Obaidi, or the better known Motez, finds the time to delicately defy expectations. Without cumbersome fear of reception or subsequent touring pressures, so perfectly cultured is an ecosystem for the cumulative evolution of a dance-laden past discography into ‘Soulitude’, a beautiful, effervescent oasis in a desert of disconnection and uncertainty.
In the absence of strict hand-holding staple elements such as drum machines and bold effects that litter Motez’s historically club-friendly releases, ‘Soulitude’ unabashedly dares to create more with less. Smatterings of electronica still sporadically spill out upon the spacial frontier that the intimately modest body of work so evocatively portrays, but ‘Soulitude’ is predominantly landscaped by one star – a reverb-drenched and simultaneously sombre yet immaculately produced grand piano. Built upon a tranquil base of warm harpsichord counter-melodies, ambiguous pads and drones and laced with found-sound foley throughout, Al-Obaidi’s heavy use spanning the 88 keys serves in duality as both the statement of each track as well as a motif upon which to contrast an extremely subtle and subdued curation of understated sample and synthesizer implementations. What results is a beautiful phenomenon of these two elements symbiotically pulling your attention in two different directions as organically as a hypothetical, multi-lingual conversation with Iraqi ex-patriot himself.
From the melancholic opening moments of ‘Shell’ through to the euphoria of the last chapter ‘Uproot’, immediately obvious is the inspiration knocked somewhere loose by 2017’s unforgettable Antony & Cleopatra collaboration ‘The Future’. It was here first that the world was introduced to Motez’s allure of more sparse compositions but that is explored here with much greater abandon. It is both a triumphant 5-track offering in great juxtaposition to previous workings as well as a body of work that stands begging to be reimagined in the form of something the likes of a remix EP.
The ultimate appeal of ‘Soulitude’ is buried deep in its somewhat effortless efficacy in curating a cathartic experience that is as equally devoid of complex composition and instrumentation as it is formulaic faux pas’. It is a departure stark enough to cause whiplash, but one curbed so gently with connective emotion and decisive maturity in its attention to detail that it imparts a wisdom well beyond its age. An utter defiance of what we’ve come to expect from one of Australia’s most multi-talented step-children, ‘Soulitude’ shines brilliantly as a beacon of one of the more welcome surprises of 2020.