Azu Tiwaline's Draw me A Silence  Will Not Leave You Wondering if Your Subwoofer is Working!

Draw Me A Silence is the first long-player from Azu Tiwaline, a project of the electronic producer and DJ Loan, who has “origins which take root in the Sahara and El Djerid region in the south of Tunisia”. This new incarnation creates “a sound from the desert drawing on Berberian and Saharan trance music that connects human beings with Nature” according to her Bandcamp page.

There is an unmistakable North African influence in the sparse melodic content and rich instrumental palette of this percussive album. In a word, this record is woody. Despite a deep electronic rhythmic punch, myriad hand drums and shakers pepper the sonic landscape with a resonant, organic tone that feels authentic and intimate. The clack of wood on wood, the taut ring of hands on goatskin, the crisp metallic snap of the tar, all hover above a loping, stinging kick drum that grounds the percussive elements. Bowed cymbals shear across the stereo field like sonic flares, dramatic and threatening. Breathy woodwinds weave sinuously between the beats. Resonant log drums hit the perfect sweet spot between the percussive and the tonal. Hissing, fizzing storms swish over precise, clattering drums. And always, underpinning each element, is a thunderous, deep electronic low end, sometimes propulsive, sometimes swelling in potent waves. The atmospheric, hallucinatory qualities of tracks like “Omok” or “Red Viper” demonstrate Azu Tiwaline’s unique and evocative abilities as a producer.

Draw Me A Silence ‘breathes’ in a way that many electronic productions do not. The question of compression is ever-present in discussions about electronic music. Without wishing to re-enact ‘the loudness war’, the attempt to crush as much volume as possible out of sampled and synthesised material can lead to some electronic music sounding squeezed and lifeless. This cannot be said of the impeccable, pristine productions on this record. Every track on this album is spacious, pulsing and alive. It is an album to return to regularly (as I have) to marvel at the clarity and depth of Azu Tiwaline’s faultless production, as much as at the fascinating compositions.

Opening track “Berbeka” delivers a stunning thunk to the chest right from the outset, galloping straight at you, hammering and ricocheting. Even when the tempo goes down a little on tracks such as “Yenna”, you are still guaranteed an emphatic, chunky downbeat. As the bass hits you, the spectral desert noises and rattling percussion conjure a potent sense of place; a disorienting, transporting sense of solitude in desolate nature. And yet, on “Itrik”, here is birdsong fluttering amongst the crunching beats, animals and bells reminiscent of a pastoral escape.

The overall tone is dark, perhaps at times even sinister, weaving a deep sense of dread and wonder through the ten coherently sequenced tracks. The unwary will feel a shiver as the indecipherable whispers and mutterings of “Red Viper” suddenly appear unsettlingly close to your ear, a brooding human presence looming out of the darkness, evoking primal fears like one of David Lynch’s backward monologues. But closing track “Izen Zaren” is consoling, with a haunting harmonic drone and a muted rhythmic core.

My pressing of this double LP is punchy, clean and renders higher frequency elements with startling realism in three-dimensional space. It goes without saying that the low end is visceral, deep and satisfying. This record can be played loud (and you should) without rawness, distortion or pressing artifacts. You will not get lost in this record; it is presented with an obsessive, driving potency that will keep you in a state of sonic hyper-vigilance from start to finish. IOT Records is a French company, and Azu Tiwaline recorded this double LP in Marseille, with mastering by Dominique “Dume” Poutet. It is a deeply exciting recording; I would suggest that many listeners who may be indifferent to music of this type will find the sonic qualities truly absorbing. Even if you don’t like it, you will not be left wondering if your subwoofer is working.

Unless another artist has something even more awe-inspiring already in the can, Draw Me A Silence is my album of 2020. Musically, it is a truly innovative blend of hypnotic rhythm, evocative, sparse melody, and dense, compelling low frequencies. Emotionally, it opens realms of space and sensations of transportation, augmented by field recordings of the North African soundscape which are entrancing and stimulating. Sonically, it is close to perfection in terms of depth, balance, clarity, ingenuity and power. Azu Tiwaline has re-shaped world music, dub techno and electronica into an innovative new form. I sincerely hope this magnificent LP is an inspiration to other musicians and producers from beyond the First World. If you have a sound system that can transport you, allow Azu Tiwaline to transport you somewhere dark, entrancing, and deep.

Stream on Qobuz.

AnalogPlanet welcomes new contributor Mark Dawes. Dawes lives in Glasgow, Scotland and works in a university on a widening access project for schools, helping kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply for college or university. He says he’s always worked in education, schools, college, universities or community education. One of his previous jobs involved setting up and running a small community recording studio, as well as running a mobile electronic music facility going around community centers. He says, “That was fun”.

COMMENTS
Elubow's picture

Well written review. I wish I could get into this music, but having parochial tastes, I find this to be a bit too eclectic for me. I could, however, imagine myself on a beach in Trinidad competing in a limbo contest with the drums like these echoing in the backround while I deftly slid under the pole. Of course, this is just a pipedream, as I’m happy to just step through my pants without falling these days.

Michael Fremer's picture
Great comment....made me laugh. I need that!
Telekom's picture

Thanks for your comments Elubow, I appreciate it! As the late, great, Jeremy Hardy once said, "you know you're getting old when you have to sit down to put your trousers on". :)

JohnEcc's picture

Only seems to be available second pressing from Europe, any local North American Distribution?

Portland Sheriff's picture

I got my copy of this and her EP (also from this year) from 2 Bridges Music, a tiny specialty shop in NYC (mail order). Worth asking them.

Telekom's picture

Thanks for this info Portland Sheriff. If anyone is interested in finding out more about the EP mentioned by Portland Sheriff, it is called "Magnetic Service" and is released on the Livity Sound label from Bristol, UK. https://livitysound.bandcamp.com

Telekom's picture

Hi JohnEcc
Try contacting IOT Records direct: https://www.iotrecords.org/ . I have found them to be helpful and responsive.
Best wishes
Mark

sasm.1971@gmail.com's picture

Good Afternoon to You all,

greetings from Portugal!

I congratulate Mark Dawes for the great and inspiring writing and review of this, until now, unknown artist to me.
I have decided, and just ordered this LP through the website indicated on the review text. Will receive my copy during second or third week of January (here in Portugal). They ship worldwide.

Best Regards.

Telekom's picture

Thank you sasm, I hope you enjoy the LP when it arrives. :)

Williblake's picture

Hi,
Is it the first pressing ?
Thx

Telekom's picture

Hi Williblake
Released on May 29 2020, so I think copies available in stores or Discogs will be 1st pressings. I have not seen any mention in the music press of re-pressings of the LP. Discogs has no differentiation of any pressings, but that could be due to incomplete information. https://www.discogs.com/Azu-Tiwaline-Draw-Me-A-Silence/release/15481301

Best Wishes
Mark

Wickedexile's picture

Thanks for the fresh referral.
Nice having new reviewer perspectives.
Would love to know their home audio systems to place context in sound assessments.

Telekom's picture

Thanks Wickedexile. My system is not audiophile quality, more of a DJ set up. I have a (pretty good I think) Yamaha amp and CD/streamer, Yamaha sub, 2x Technics 1210s with Ortofon Concordes. I would say I am learning about audiophile devices, and I have been reading Analog Planet, and Michael's articles, for some years now to understand more. I do some home audio production so I think I have reasonable ears. :) I definitely aspire to a higher level system.

I'm glad you enjoyed the electronic Touareg music! I have not checked this out yet, but my friend (Hi Colin) tipped me off to a round-up of North African and Middle Eastern releases in 2020: https://scenenoise.com/Features/best-albums-of-2020-middle-east-north-af...
Best Wishes
Mark

fishbone35's picture

Thanks for your great review of Draw Me A Silence. Though not normally a big fan of electronic(a), I'm mesmerized by the Part 1 of this title. I've streamed it and Part 2 on Qobuz several times, thus far preferring the drive of the first part. This will be in rotation for the foreseeable future. Now to decide whether to get the vinyl edition. I look forward to more of your reviews that may expand my listening interests like this one did.

Telekom's picture
Telekom's picture

Thanks fishbone, your comments are appreciated. I have been impressed by the sonic quality of both the vinyl and digital versions of Draw Me A Silence. 'Mesmerising' is the perfect word to describe it!
Best Wishes
Mark

Portland Sheriff's picture

I was very surprised and mildly thrilled to see a review of this on Analog Planet bc it’s also one of my top releases for 2020.

I discovered this album from a music podcast in September and was blown away by the combo of electronica (which I don’t always love when it’s not ambient-ish) and the North African percussion/drums/rhythms, the latter of which sealed the deal for me.

I instantly found 1st presses of this and her EP “Magnetic Service,” also from this year. Fresh, interesting, and, as you point out, fantastic sound and production. As a bonus, albeit based on limited info from following her on Instagram, she seems like a humble and gracious person.

Telekom's picture

Hi Portland Sheriff!
Isn't it amazing music? I am blown away by her production skills. I make electronic music and I find so much fascination in her sonic work. I'm glad you have been as impressed as I have been by her work and her kind persona. I can't wait until live music and festivals are possible again so that I can hear her music on a big sound system with other people!

If you want to hear some of her other work, look up DJ Loan - some brilliant electro.

Best Wishes
Mark

RJ's picture

If any of you out there are digging this LP, check out Dawn Of Midi's "Dysnomia". Similar trance like rhythms, and it's all done in real time - no loops involved. I've see them perform it live twice, and it's mesmerizing.

X