Faten Kanaan – Pleiade Hex 6

Faten Kanaan – Pleiade Hex 6

Following on from 2016’s cult-establishing debut solo LP The Botanist And The Archaeologist and a 7” single collaboration with Pye Corner Audio from a few months back, expectations that this second full-length album from Faten Kanaan would mark a big outward leap forward are higher than they would be for any other Polytechnic Youth signing.  Curiously though, the obscurely named Pleiade Hex 6 ducks such anticipation almost entirely.  Not necessarily a retreat as such but more of a strong-minded side-step, the seven-track suite finds Kanaan immersing herself more deeply in her craft, with even harder to pin down results.

With vocals used even more sparingly than on The Botanist And The Archaeologist and musically inspired by medieval and baroque arrangements, Kanaan takes her analogue synth scene-sculpting into even more abstract ambient realms.  Whilst the opening “On The Absence of Longing In The Modern Age” suggests an electronic early-Piano Magic number from the song-title, the subterranean prowling, pirouetting and liturgical soundscaping comes from a far more amorphous and deeper aural plane.  The ensuing “All By Compass” proffers only a moderately easier and at least shorter entry point, with almost chirruping classical filigrees bleeding into deep-space Tangerine Dream drones.  After such scent-throwing explorations, comes the stunning standout vocal-led “Aventurine”, wherein Kanaan’s elegantly alluring and commanding tones sit atop both gently rippling and darkly foreboding synth layers with bewitching magnetism.

With “Geist und Seele” the plates shift again, this time into a haunting Wendy Carlos-indebted micro-symphony, before gliding into the warmer “Dargelos” with its squelching repetitions and harpsichord imitations.  Some ‘80s-like dimensions are brought into the hypnotic “Turning Into Deer”, the second vocal track, which imagines a lost collaboration between John Carpenter and This Mortal Coil.  For the closing “Casting Two Bells (Epilogue)” a mixture of cosmic whirrs and terpsichorean keyboard figures coil together in a dark elusive bundle.

In some ways, Pleiade Hex 6 becomes more – not less – complex to unpick with each successive listen.  It’s certainly not a straightforward or more crowd-pleasing sequel to The Botanist And The Archaeologist and some might well be put-off beyond the crowning centrepiece of “Aventurine”.  However, this is clearly the work of an artist intent on mining a sonic seam that others would not have the courage to excavate and its enigmas will still enthral Faten Kanaan’s already devout following.

Polytechnic Youth