Loss is an immeasurable thing. It’s also something we all experience in our lives. Some go years without it landing in their orbit; others are not so lucky. However, no matter how well equipped you think you are in dealing with this aspect of life, the initial impact remains the same every time it happens.
At least that’s how I felt when I heard about the passing of Mimi Parker. The shock. The sadness. The memories. The pages of Sun 13 probably wouldn’t exist had it not been for Low – so influential and pioneering, time and time again captivating us with their unbridled ability to create something fresh and vital at every time of asking. It felt like a crueller blow than most.
It got me thinking. Like Mimi’s spouse, Alan Sparhawk and Italian producer Gigi Masin, who also lost his wife recently, I too was once married before my wife suddenly passed away. It’s not a case of trying to put myself in their shoes in some sordid form of grief tourism. I’ve been there, and through the blast zone (both artists obviously in very different stages of it), the question is this: how do you keeping going? Everyone’s different, but looking forward is crucial.
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That’s why, despite Masin’s horrendous year, his latest LP Vahiné made me smile. Through that very blast zone, Masin has seemingly thrown all his energy into something that feels so far away from the tragedies that have enveloped him over the past twelve months.
With protracted, oasis-like dreamscapes, Vahiné is a record for escapism. Maybe that’s his way of dealing, but the emotional nuance through these six compositions inject the kind of hope you want from someone who has suffered the kind of loss that Masin has.
A tribute to his late wife, Vahiné is inspired by a Tahitian dance entitled the ‘Aparima’, which Masin came across whilst watching a documentary in early hours of the morning after his wife passed away. In his own words, “At the end of the road it’s possible to realise dreams.”
It rings true, for Vahiné doesn’t just flicker with hope. It actually embraces it. Starting with Marlene, Masin exposes contemplation with a composition of fractured piano and trademark trumpet that squeezes through the cracks.
And what is awaiting is Vahiné’s highlight, Barumini. Building on a crest of utter euphoria, Barumini is a multi-functioning epic that imbues optimism. The glitter, the brass, the beat. It’s Masin extracting something positive from the pits of despair in what is one of his finest tracks yet.
While Sadye and Malvina maintain that upbeat quality, Masin orchestrates just enough nuance to provide that hymnal quality that always hits a nerve and tugs at the heartstrings.
Then there’s Valerie Crossing that is like a morning blur. Think of the sunrise peaking over the mountains, however with a driving synth line, Masin produces something that goes beyond the vibe of just hoping for the best. There’s a conviction here which you can feel through the music, and while Valerie Crossing most certainly is the height of that, as a whole Vahiné encompasses it.
It continues on the closing, glitch-heavy title track, as Masin merges the sound worlds of Modern Love and Kompakt with his own flavour of deep-house magic, brimming with unparalleled emotion.
Through loss, grief, and all the by-products that come with losing someone so close to you, Masin has captured the raw energy of the moment and thrown it across the creative canvass. Vahiné is confirmation that he won’t be defeated, and in this victory, not only has he found hope, he’s produced something truly gorgeous as well.
Vahiné is out Friday via Language of Sound. Purchase from Bandcamp.