The term ‘genre defying’ is used all too often these days, especially in relation to the slew of UK artists operating within the realms of house influenced electronic music. Few live up to it, but in the case of Ikonika, this term definitely holds true. The London based producer, Sara Abdel-Hamid, launched herself as a major player in the UK dubstep scene with the release of her debut album Contact, Love, Want, Have back in 2010. After a three year wait, she returns with her sophomore release Aerotropolis.
The album came together while Abdel-Hamid was living within the flight path of Heathrow airport and takes inspiration from the sounds that regularly invaded the air space above her. That’s not to say Aerotropolis is ‘droney’ (although there is some drone in there). There’s much more to the album than that. The opening track ‘Mise En Place’ takes all the elements of pioneering 80s electro outfit 808 State and scrunches them down into an 8bit screwball of energy. This sits in contrast to the fresh, stripped house of ‘Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)’.
Squidgy bass and fizzy beats permeate the album and give it a wonky feel that seems entirely appropriate to the turbulence and uncertainty of living surrounded by constant noise, reflecting the subject matter of the album. Stand out track ‘Let A Smile Be (Y)our Umbrella’ injects a warm disco infused embrace and lets you know there’s more going on here than simple experimentation. There’s a commercial awareness to the music as well.
The overall sound of Aerotropolis embraces an astronomic fell and ejects the listener into a sonic stratosphere filled with a mix of vocal harmonies, compressed beats and experimental synth sounds reminiscent of the heydays of Detroit techno. When all these elements combine, the results set Aerotropolis way ahead of Abdel-Hamid’s dubstep past and face forward, projecting her sound into a future of infinite possibilities.