Announcing her debut album on Ninja Tune, Nabihah Iqbal leaves her old moniker behind and embraces the name she was born with. Formerly known as Throwing Shade, Weighing of the Heart is a big statement in two ways: first, because she’s taken her real name to stand proudly as a female British Asian artist making music and secondly, because she’s moved her music in a bolder, more expansive direction.
Channeling influences from the likes of CAN and Bauhaus, she melds moody, propulsive basslines with shimmering synth atmospheres. The title alludes to an Ancient Egyptian myth about judgement and the afterlife, the concept of which underlies various ideas that are explored throughout the album. Making her first long-player with these themes in mind, she’s honed a sound with a greater focus on live instruments (of which she has played them all). A notable addition to the sound is the guitar, which she’s been increasingly incorporating into her live shows. Often fed through heavy effects, it provides a counterbalance to the soft-focus, hazy aura of the record.
Recorded in her studio space (hired with support from the PRS Foundation), it’s the product of self-directed, freely-evolving recording sessions; with a more confident, inclusive approach to her influences. The album was mixed by Studio 13‘s Stephen Sedgwick, who works closely with Damon Albarn and who mixed the most recent Gorillaz album “Humanz”.
The album’s intertwining styles are underpinned by Iqbal’s writing, drawing on themes of existential doubt, pondering the struggles and pleasures which mark day-to-day life. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the lead single Something More – released today – her subdued vocals exploring the feeling of being eternally unsatisfied with what you’ve got. “[It’s] a song about a universal feeling that everyone shares” explains Nabihah “even if they try to hide or ignore it. It’s about how true happiness and freedom only exist in the dimension of our fantasies, dreams and private thoughts. The reality of our physical existence constantly leaves us dissatisfied, frustrated and yearning for ‘something more’, even though we’ll never find a way to remedy these feelings”.
Weighing of the Heart is out December 1 on Ninja Tune. Pre-order here.