Afghan American artist Maryam Qudus, who has previously worked as a producer for artists including Tune-Yards, Toro y Moi and Sad13, steps out solo for No Past No Future, her debut as Spacemoth, and it’s a fully-formed, wonderful album dripping with ambition and ideas.
Vintage synths and carefree melody lines nonetheless buzz with an undercurrent of immense discontent, and her deeply personal lyrics address feelings of isolation and being trapped (‘This Shit’) and the stings of everyday racism in the USA (‘LOTF’). The societal pressures of trying to contend with an unworkable system are contained in every track, though. ‘Round in Loops’ is far and away the most accessible song here, but no less deranged or trippy, and ‘Waves Come Crashing’ is like the theme for an as-yet unwritten sci-fi cinema classic.
Elsewhere, there are little pockets of distortion and detuned radio signals throughout, which provides a nod to the shared DNA of synth pioneers like Delia Derbyshire, Suzanne Ciani and Wendy Carlos, no strangers themselves to creating adventurous sonic techniques which shaped modern electronic music.
Although her influences are evident – ‘Pipe and Pistol’ flirts with Krautrock retrofuturism and ‘UFObird’ is a delicate take on the wooziness of Boards of Canada – her rich, emotive vocals and pop sensibility are both hugely assured and uniquely her own. Catchy, yet jarring and unashamedly experimental, No Past No Future proves that, as ever, the best pop music is fluid, intelligent, and singular in its vision.