Iska Dhaaf (taken from Somali, translated roughly to “let it go”)
In 2011 Nathan Quiroga (Mad Rad, Buffalo Madonna) and Benjamin Verdoes (Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band) left their respective Seattle-based projects behind and began collaboration on Iska Dhaaf. The band was quickly embraced for their engaging live shows, and for creating the sound of a full band by way of two people. Together as songwriters they have steadily explored production, instrumentation, and an ever-expanding narrative voice.
After the release of their debut, Even the Sun Will Burn, they toured across North America, Western Europe, relocated to New York, and most recently wrote and performed in Paris and Berlin. Their upcoming album, The Wanting Creature, sees the duo emerging as producers, experimenters and genre-bending artists. The new songs show an ongoing devotion to lyrical depth and composition, and the album more fully utilizes their diverse musical backgrounds. Nearly five years in, they will surprise with their innovations-taking risks one would hope to see in a sophomore album.
“You’re the wanting creature you’re the soul that’s never satisfied”
The Wanting Creature, the second offering from Brooklyn-via Seattle band Iska Dhaaf, is best described as profoundly vulnerable. It takes the complications of loss, depression, and instability from Nathan Quiroga’s & Benjamin Verdoes’ personal lives and turns them into something beautiful. The band explains the album as an intuition or series of transmissions that surfaced slowly over the 3 years the record took to complete. It is an intricate conversation they built, deconstructed and built again. The Wanting Creature revolves around the theme of desire and how it manifests in each area of our lives, even our biology.
True to the form of their first album, the poetry and wordplay of the lyrics on The Wanting Creature is rich, nuanced and layered. Every word is carefully chosen and there is a precise subtlety that allows the lines to continually unfold new meaning and imagery. Likewise, the sounds are refreshing and distinct. The band took their early methods of composition and pushed them into a new realm of production. This was due to the band’s desire to move forward but also the spatial constraints of New York City. The arrangements are bathed in digital textures and explore entirely new sonic territory. Much like Phantogram, Liars, and other contemporary innovators, Iska Dhaaf have pushed themselves to a wider spectrum of possibilities and experimentation.
“I feel what you fear. I fear what you feel inside: to be alone, to be unknown”
The first single from Iska Dhaaf’s upcoming record, “Invisible Cities”, looks out through the eyes of one walking through the busy city at night. It is a brief moment of detachment from the mundane, where a million possibilities present themselves. The song rides on the back of a blurry and hypnotic bass line, driving ever forward, as a platform for Nathan Quiroga to deliver his stunning visual narrative.
Clash - Iska Dhaaf know a thing or two about hooks
Noisey - Invisible Cities sounds straight out of Sonic Youth’s collective brain, sent through a meat grinder full of nu-metal, surf rock, and futuristic synth.
Indie Shuffle - [Invisible Cities] exudes danger, angst, and creativity. You owe it to yourself to listen, multiple times, with good headphones
Fame Magazine - ‘Lost’ is another of their flawless musical coherence, made of fluid vocal melody upon tastefully urgent and dark electronic bliss.
Blahblahblahscience - 'Lost’ is cool bit of blissed-out dark pop with a slightly menacing undercurrent (that distorted synth bass gives the song a cool sinister edge) fortified on very strong hook-driven writing.
The Stranger - Iska Dhaaf’s Even the Sun Will Burn comes in at #2 on the Top Seattle Albums of 2014
The Portland Mercury - “Even the Sun Will Burn… is both fully contemporary and decidedly uninterested in current trends… And there’s a particular Northwest sensibility that’s trickier to put into words: poppy, melancholic, loud, rain-dipped, and lightly, almost gently psychotic. It covers both dance and rock while fortunately evading "dance rock” territory; it’s filled with hooks and weird left turns; it’s very good.“
Louder Than War - ”[T]hey play this spooked, melancholic music that captures the rainswept vistas of that great city and their music is captivating, emotional and powerful.“
Mad Mackerel - "In many, many ways it is an album of contrasts – joyful and melancholic, subtle and brutal, uncompromising and welcoming it mixes punk, psychedelia, indie rock and even dream pop into a triumphant whole that manages to be much more than the mere sum of its parts.”