"Stranger Days": Iman Lake
Production: Hotel October & Kakigori Club
EP: Don't Dream
There is something inevitable about Iman Lake’s latest single, “Stranger Days”; a song that somehow inspires deep anxieties about our society and simultaneously lulls us into an almost gleeful nursery rhyme about impending doom. Listening to an exclusive preview of the track, it’s easy to get the sense that it is a song of two halves; two sides of the same coin. The track builds with an ‘other-worldly’ sample that could easily have made the score of a Tron movie and is the perfect aesthetic for the first act. Layered over ominous synths and a driving kick, Iman describes a world set on fire by greed and lies, writing into the long tradition of a disaffected youth. But unlike many artists’ attempts to write into this lineage, Iman does not come across as clichéd. There is something unique about the image of ‘scratching post’, maybe it’s the passivity or the mundane associations. The listener is complicit in the chaos- we are insensitive to images of violence, to inequality, we are the ones running from the flames we fanned. It’s a hellish nightmare, a sequence of futile attempts to hide from the monster we created that culminates in an abrupt beat switch.
Having built up a kind of electronic hell-scape, the second half of the song has an acoustic natural sound, resembling a return back to nature with faint forest noises flickering in the background. Sonically, it acts as a balm with an easy guitar and warm reverb but the content of the lyrics remains the same. Iman is still eulogising a world in smoke only this time the sweeter instrumental provides an emotional cushion. It is here that Iman’s skill is best seen. Iman’s ambition is something to be celebrated. The creative choices on this track elevate the meaning of the song above a simple reading of the lyrics. The instrumental, the vocal performance, the beat switch, the sample, everything reinforces the listener’s understanding of the material beyond the text. “Stranger Days” is a promising attempt by a young artist and I’m excited to see where Iman goes from here with his debut EP.