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Find The Sun Rob Hakimian , November 12th, 2020 09:02

The new album from former Dirty Projector Deradoorian proves enlightening and confounding in equal measure, finds Rob Hakimian

Deradoorian’s debut solo album The Expanding Flower Planet was a set of songs that celebrated spirituality and seemed to be exuding love for life with every note, with plenty of blossoming grooves and polyphonic instrumental layering. Five years on, her second album Find The Sun still sees her pursuing a spiritual state of mind, but it is much more about turning inwards and finding peace in oneself. Appropriately, the songs take a much sparer, more atmospheric approach that suits these themes, but they eschew the colourful nature of what we had come to know her for. It’s an about-face that seems to be a response to the dark path that the world has taken in the last half decade.

Deradoorian was not alone in creating the songs on Find The Sun; she had many collaborators including alt-jazz mainstay Dave Harrington and experimental percussionist Samer Ghadry, with whom she would discuss her ideas and jam out her sketches until they became fuller songs. But they did not feel the need to overstuff the songs with layers of instrumentation; instead they’ve attuned themselves to the uncertainty lurking in Deradoorian’s mind and helped her guide these pieces towards sounds akin to the kraut-psych of Can – a heavy influence on this record.

For someone who rose to prominence because of her dynamic vocal abilities, which were put on full display during her time as a Dirty Projector, Deradoorian’s relatively restrained singing on Find The Sun might surprise. She still lets her impressive range show in places, but much less frequent are moments where she layers it or harmonises with herself. Instead, she largely sticks to her single voice with a few effects, which is a further reflection of the recession into her mind and search for oneness that is the main theme of the album.

Deradoorian doesn’t always present her soul-searching as successful, though. She’s “searching for the light / light that never shows” on ‘Corsican Shores’ – a skeletal track that is a much less sunny affair than its title would suggest. ‘Saturnine Night’ is a propulsive kraut-rock workout that stretches out for seven minutes, but with scant lyrics, instead incorporating plenty of wordless wailing, punctuated by the repeated desire for “infinite skies” and the assertion “I die.”

Even in the more overtly beautiful tracks, the tension is still rife in her musings. ‘Monk’s Robes’ places her gorgeous voice in perfect unison with an acoustic-and-synth basis, creating a drifting dream that is taking her away from all she knows – “my earthly life drowns in the ignorance of disillusion.” The song has a grandstand finale, shifting into a confrontation as she seems to reach the gates of heaven and is challenged by a deity asking “child of earth both moral and blind, what do you seeketh here? / there’s nothing here for you unless you promise to always stay true.” Later, on ‘It Was Me’, her quest for peace hits a roadblock immediately, as she questions “what do you know about meditation?” and goes on to describe an ill-fated trip around the globe in search for calmness.

These songs about the difficulty of achieving equanimity in the modern world could not seem more current, but they could easily come off as preachy. This is almost certainly not Deradoorian’s intention, which is made even more clear by a closer look at the self-effacing and often humorous lyrics – it is the musical accompaniment which may well give listeners the wrong impression. Deradoorian and her collaborators have moved her sound out of the brightness of her past and into something that better suits the themes of the record, but this has also led them to creating songs whose appeal is not immediately evident – most notably ‘The Illuminator’, an ambling nine minutes of percussion and stuttering flute with minimal vocal mumblings. Ultimately, Find The Sun is much like spirituality in itself; it will reward those with patience and an open mind, but will confound those looking for easy answers and accessibility.