Ilyas Ahmed :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

On his new record Closer to Stranger, Portland guitarist and singer Ilyas Ahmed picks up the threads that run through his numerous solo records and collaborations with Liz Harris of Grouper and Dreamboat (with Matt Carlson and Jonathan Sielaff of Golden Retriever) and ties them into dreamy new knots.

It represents Ahmed's "one-man band" ambitions, packed with electric and acoustic guitars, Fender Rhodes, patient, steady drums, and washes of synthesizer (Sielaff shows up to play some gorgeous sax on album highlight "Zero For Below"), which add up to a sound equally rooted in psych-folk lonerism and the avant-garde. It's a mellow, often comforting album, but there are complicated concerns running throughout, meditations on "uneasy identity politics during times of unreason, seeking peace amidst chaos," Ahmed's label MIE states.

Recently, AD caught up with Ahmed to dig deeper into Closer to Stranger's unique vibe.

Aquarium Drunkard: This record is mostly just you, but it's expansive. It sounds like a band record much more than a "solo guitarist" kind of deal. How did you get the album to that place?

Ilyas Ahmed: I certainly listen to a lot of solo performers, but I think the archetype in my head -- what I think about when I think about music -- is a band. I think almost across the board, my solo records have been this "imaginary band" situation. I listen to a lot of different music and always think, "What would happen if I crossed this with this?" [Laughs]

Ilyas Ahmed :: Meditation On The Split Self

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.