LP HMS 048
Maps is the fourth pairing of Istanbul-based drone whisperer Ekin Fil (born Ekin Üzeltüzenci) and the Helen Scarsdale Agency, the Californian label operated by Jim Haynes. Haynes' fandom has led to a prolific outpouring of Ekin Fil material over the years, resulting in dream-pop gems such as Being Near (2016) and the critically lauded Ghosts Inside from 2017.
This is a unique album for Fil, in that her voice is subdued, whispered, echoed, smeared and otherwise obfuscated so that the minor-key piano, guitar and organ tones are the most prominent features. The artist had recently relocated to a small island off the coast of Istanbul prior to recording these songs, and the isolation and silence of that maritime location produced an austere shift in her overall sound. Fil has always toyed with vast chasms of open space, but Maps blows misty clouds of sea spray into what were once cavernous gaps; her love for dream-pop acts such as Cranes and Cocteau Twins ensures that these compositions are peppered with harmonious signifiers. Particularly evocative is "At Dawn," the nine-minute closing piece, which could have been lifted from Slowdive's Pygmalion, had it not retained Fil's signature melancholia. Its smudged rhythm box shuffle and low-end throb produce a hypnotic effect as the album trails off into ghostly silence.
Having been compared with artists such as Grouper — alongside whom she has performed — throughout her career, with Maps, Fil has transcended surface-level affinities. The ethereality of her oeuvre has blossomed into a barely there mist of delicate melody. -- Bryon Hayes