Dreams are interesting things. They can fill us with aspiration as quickly as they can haul as back down to earth. For French-Senegalese artist anaiis, divulging the paradoxical dualities of dreams from the viewpoint of her own arduous life experiences is central in the make-up of her vulnerable debut album, ‘This Is No Longer A Dream’. Brimming with introspection, the album flows through subversion into empowerment as anaiis pieces together distorted fragments of her inner psyche to rippling effect.
‘undulations’ sets a pensive tone from the offset. Hypnotic keys and vocals paint a vivid soundscape of varying colour which continues into the underwater like sonics of ‘d.s.o’ (dream sequence overture). Channel Orange vibes are felt through sparse drums in ‘ultraviolet, counts’, which is where anaiis’ vocals shine the brightest: catchy melodies and intuitive range are cushioned with angelic like harmonies as the track surmises her inner dialogue that we can’t see.
Previously released tracks ‘chuu’ ft. Topaz Jones and ‘cry in your sleep’ ft. Chronixx are both highlights for their smooth flow. Sandwiched between these tracks however is ‘vanishing’, which opens with a haunting, Wu-Tang style piano melody before anaiis’ vibrato laden vocals take centre stage. It grapples with a loss of control and identity whilst still holding onto glimmers of hope: “You can save me, it’s alright / See my vanishing point is a trick of the mind.”
Elsewhere, ‘reverie’ fits in with the album’s dreamy aura with its distant horns and elongated vocals. Grammy nominated rapper Sjava brings a more native African feel to the record in the self-affirming ‘be alright’ while ‘juno’ sees anaiis fluctuate between French and English with haunting lyrics: “T’as le regard noir aigri (You have sour black eyes) / L’ame sans espoir s’enfuit (The hopeless soul runs away)”. With closing track ‘transcending’, the mood notably shifts to one of optimism rather than fear. Subtle acoustic guitars and bongos are all that’s needed to accompany anaiis’ vocals that shrug off any previous self-loathing to embrace fully in self-love.
‘this is no longer a dream’ feels like an album that anaiis needed to make. She needed to battle her inner demons to break through her life struggles. She needed to sprawl out her darkest moments into musical form to understand them fully. But above all, as her album closer shows, she needed to rise above her thoughts and accept herself fully for who she is, which is what ‘this is no longer a dream’ is testament to.
Words: Jamie Wilde
– – –
– – –