Former Vampire Weekend band member and producer (Frank Ocean and Solange), Rostam Batmangli, who goes simply by Rostam, has finally released his highly anticipated debut solo album ‘Half-Light‘. The fifteen track record was produced, written and performed by Rostam in his Los Angeles home studio. Much of the album explores Rostam’s feeling of dichotomy of having ‘double’ ethnicities, having come from an Iranian immigrant family who moved to the United States. But also the dichotomy of “slipping between straight and gay worlds, code-switching”, as he puts it when discussing the appropriately named title of the album ‘Half-Light’.
The title track sums up the album perfectly – it’s delicate vocals over an alternative pop melody. The album’s influences vary from the reggae-tinged ‘Rudy’ to the Kanye West inspired auto-tuned vocals on ‘Warning Intruders’ and the gospel choir in ‘EOS’. Despite the range in influences making for a diverse and rich sounding album, at times, it feels disjointed and not a cohesive sounding body of work like on a cinematic and classical inspired ‘Gwan’.
While the album itself isn’t overtly political, given the current political landscape, its themes speak volumes in a political nature. Speaking to The New Yorker,Rostam stated “Because of who I am, and how open I am, there’s something inherently political about just writing love songs.” Overall, Rostam has really defined his sound as a soloist with an impressive album, whose themes are relatable and profound and is presented through a intelligent blend of genres, which he has done impeccably well throughout his career.
Rostam’s debut album ‘Half-Light’ is out now