Album Reviews

Faten Kanaan – Afterpoem

(Fire) UK release date: 24 February 2023

Fifth album from Brooklyn-based electronic producer is enveloped in beautiful mystery, existing in the spaces between genres

Faten Kanaan - Afterpoem Electronic producer Faten Kanaan has been quietly releasing absorbing, under the radar albums since 2016. She is of Syrian-Palestinian-Jordanian-Lebanese descent, was born in Germany and currently resides in Brooklyn so it seems appropriate that there is a certain universality to her sound, containing music so warm and enriching that it feels like everyone should be able to find something to appreciate in it. The synthesiser may be central but fifth album Afterpoem builds on 2020’s A Mythology Of Circles, showing how her music now exists in the spaces between genres, touching upon ambient electronica, modern classical and eerie, soundtracky otherness while also making passing hints at choral and baroque music along the way.

Whichever stylistic avenue is being explored she successfully sculpts and shapes her music in a way that gives it a soft and organic feel. It’s certainly noticeable in the gauzy oscillations of Trenchcoat and the hyper-melodic Boards Of Canada style undulations of Florin Court. It’s also present in the way the lucid piano of Ard Diar surreptitiously tiptoes down hidden pathways to suggest something that could be found on a Max Richter album. Kanaan explained how the track is named after the courtyard in traditional Damascene houses and is a reflection on the link between architecture and memory, additional context which further illustrates the level of thought and personal investment that has gone into the album. 

Ebla sees her revert to the core sound of the album, featuring hypnagogic, electronic shivers that fade away into wistfulness. Further stand-out moments follow with Votive and La Smorfia. The former features gently imposing synth structures alongside floating, wordless vocals while the latter is opaque and shadowy, lost in the ether and seemingly just as much mystical vapour as it is actual music. Cascando, meanwhile, is a shimmering electronic mirage that gradually evolves into something baroque sounding. If you’re looking for points of reference, her music is similarly positioned to artists like Grouper, Julianna Barwick, Sarah Davachi and Oneohtrix Point Never.

Much of Afterpoem is enveloped in beautiful mystery but somehow Kanaan manages to also make it a welcoming listen. The album’s title refers to the feeling of uncertainty that surrounds extracting true meaning from poetry – “glistening threads of understanding still touch us – the poetry becoming intimately personal, and no further literal explanation is needed” Kanaan explains. It is this depth and emotional investment that allows Afterpoem to make the enduring impact it does and also suggests that her music deserves to have wider reach.

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More on Faten Kanaan
Faten Kanaan – Afterpoem
Faten Kanaan – A Mythology Of Circles