- Nathan Yoder
Recommended Listening: Ilyas Ahmed & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - You Can See Your Own Way Out
Ilyas Ahmed and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma just wrapped up one of the strangest promo campaigns we've seen in a long time. This spring, leading up to their album You Can See Your Own Way Out, the longtime friends and collaborators took turns posting memes of iconic duos labeled "Cantu" and "Ahmed." Some of them made sense - for example, Cantu as Jerry Garcia and Ahmed is Bob Weir. All four are guitarists, so there you go. But other memes were much weirder. Fun, but completely bizarre. Like, see below.
Image poached from Ilyas Ahmed's Instagram.
Now, there probably wasn't a lot of calculated thought and careful intention put into these. Just two buddies messing around on IG. We shouldn't have classified these meme bursts as a "promo campaign" in the lead, insinuating that there's a PR team somewhere sitting around a board room table arguing which artist's name should be placed over Pizza Hut, and which over Taco Bell. But you know what? This "campaign" worked. It hyped You Can See Your Own Way Out in the strangest way. And when the album came out last Friday, eager fans finally got to hear the real Ahmed + Cantu.
The first half of YCSYOWO creeps along at a low hum. Plenty of ambient fuzz and hiss characterize the opening three tracks - songs with "night" and "dark and "moon" in their titles. A noisy burst opens the fourth cut, but then fades back down, settling back into the sonic valley that is side A.
Mr. Sophistication is where things begin to shift. Warm synth tones and major-scale notes usher in a completely different mood, and it is the only track featuring light vocals. Clean fingerpicking serves as the base of The Closer You Get To Being Invisible, and acoustic strums define City Walls. Even Black Across White, a slower construction, seems to emanate a comforting glow. Overall, the two halves work well together - a sort of night/day balance.
At DC we've followed both Cantu and Ahmed for some time now, and in our opinion the most interesting part of YCSYOWO is that each artist's distinct style bubbles up in certain moments, but during others, it is impossible to deconstruct their combined sound. You will hear pieces of both I Am All Your Own and Love Is A Stream, and also some experimentation that feels altogether new. Listen to it for yourself on Bandcamp though this link, and feel free to check out a highlight below for an introductory taste.