Between Two Skies & Towards The Night
Between Two Skies/Towards The Night is now available on vinyl for the very first time, presenting the first two full length albums from Ilyas Ahmed in one gorgeous package. Featuring brand new gatefold collage art created by Ahmed especially for this release
Limited to 987 copies pressed on high quality virgin vinyl at RTI and housed in an old-style tip-on gatefold jacket printed by Stoughton. Included is a coupon for DRM-free MP3 download
Pakistani-born musician Ilyas Ahmed traffics a sound that borders on the folk/drone/raga/rock axis, one that Scottish critic David Keenan has called “gone”. Currently residing in Portland, OR, Ahmed has released recordings on Time-Lag, Digitalis, and Root Strata. He is known to perform live with Honey Owens (Valet) and Jed Bindeman (Eternal Tapestry, Heavy Winged) and his recent recordings have featured Liz Harris (Grouper). He first appeared in the Fall of 2005 with Between Two Skies & Towards The Night two albums that were released on CDr in editions of 50 copies. Even in editions so small these records quickly made waves and impacted anyone who was lucky enough to hear them. In 2007, Between Two Skies & Towards The Night were given a proper CD release by Digitalis.
Immune Recordings is now proud to present the ultimate edition of these two modern classics presented as a deluxe gatefold double LP. Featuring the original collage artwork printed in full color as well as brand new gatefold artwork created especially for this release by Ilyas Ahmed. The music was meticulously cut to vinyl by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering in Phoenix, AZ and pressed on high quality virgin vinyl at RTI in Camarillo, CA.
Some words on Ilyas Ahmed from author/critic David Keenan of Volcanic Tongue :
In the fall of 2005 Ilyas Ahmed self-published two solo discs of guitar, vocal, piano, percussion and bells that felt so completely lonesome – so fully unplugged from anything approaching any extant tradition – they may well have been beamed from his own personal universe a couple of light years away from the nearest human being. They came with virtually no accompanying details, no hyperbolic press release or handy line of descent, except for the information that they were recorded in almost complete isolation on an old farm in Minnesota. Where he was calling from seemed to be the only fact that held any weight in regards to the measure of the music. This was extreme emotional topography, personal map-points focused into an intense singularity. The discs were titled Between Two Skies and Towards The Night. They spoke of a saga as hermetic in its personal symbolism as that of Jandek, Mark Tucker or Joshua Burkett. The music itself seemed a little Anglocentric for an American resident, with guitar stylings that were closer to the whole Bert Jansch/John Renbourn type of spidery, eschatological folk modes than the more often referenced school of American Primitive birthed in the wake of the late John Fahey’s personal guitar cosmologies.
Ahmed was born in Pakistan, raised in New Jersey, lived in Vermont and Maine, took off for Seattle, dropped out in Minnesota. He was on the lamb, and he was drawing on a musical vocabulary that was a classic traveller’s cache. In his unanchored modal work he touched on aspects of Davy Graham and Clive Palmer’s Far Eastern/North African folk synthesis. In the organic logic of his phrasing – the very length of his lines – he was truly projective, with movement in space governed by movement of breath. The evocative placement of piano, vocals, cymbal drones and thimbles of percussion also seemed to follow a similar construction, falling like delicate feathers into a deep, black void. And his vocals sounded like trains, like the whistle of the freighters on their way from Jackson, Mississippi to Houston, Texas on John Fahey’s 1967 concrete/guitar masterpiece “A Raga Called Pat”, while his guitar would occasionally lock in behind them in a laconic, traveling style that approximated the laying of tracks across huge phantom continents.
There’s a purity to the playing across both these early sides that is becoming hard to find in the increasingly culturally-policed and globally plugged-in underground milieu that was the first to embrace them, highlighting both Ahmed’s lack of sub-cultural savvy and his deeper, more intuitive grasp of the precise vibrations of Ur-forms like folk and country blues, resulting in a music that has tangible roots in classic outlaw styles while remaining extremely personal and outside of any established school.
Call it abandon, a facility for letting go, for moving on; either way Ahmed’s music is *gone*. And all we have are the recordings, scattered notes to prove that he once existed and felt it all as deeply and miraculously as any of us. And right now, from where I’m calling from, I wouldn’t ask for anything more.
–David Keenan, Glasgow, May 2007.
“Ahmed’s sound is gorgeous and spare, simple and spacious, darkly emotional and sweetly mournful.” -Aquarius
“These are songs as empty vessels, formlessness defined, a Byzantine route to mood.” – Other Music
“These primitive recordings house some remarkably beautiful sounds, largely focused on Ahmed’s solo guitar playing and mournfully howling voice.” - Boomkat
“It’s the music of wind-swept steppes, barren plains and snow-laden conifer trees. It’s primordial and yet forward-thinking, a music for all civilizations seen through one lost soul’s eyes. It’s timeless and hypnotic, challenging and emotionally pure. It’s essential, simple as.” - Julian Cope’s Head Heritage