With his debut solo release, Mujahedeen, in December of 2013, Ali Muhareb established himself as a facet of Portland’s music culture outside his former affiliation with the garage psych outfit Talkative. After two years growth through extensive shows and a handful of short tours, Muhareb’s brand new sophomore release, Existentially Wasted, is a relatable exhibition of what it’s like to drift through life young, hungry and heartbroken – played through a tripped out, exotic auxiliary.
Muhareb’s approach to tackling the question of existence isn’t masked by his use of varied instrumentation, but enhanced by it. For some reason, confusion sounds better when expressed through eclectic, world music-influenced psychedelic bedroom pop. Both vocally and instrumentally, his comparison to Animal Collective is appropriate and understandable, but Muhareb’s sound is a more accessible take on the eccentricity.
Existentially Wasted begins with “I Will Write a Song,” which interesting describes the act of doing just that. Leading into the title track, Ali offers a lyrical anthem for those of us in the working class, with “I’m existentially wasted/I’ve never actual tasted/the fruit of my labor/I’ll rot in the summer sun.” The album eclipses with it’s lead single, “When Do I Begin?”. The track and it’s accompanying video, are both a mental foray throughout the tall grass of the mind’s deepest corners, transcribed through lo-fi synthesized sounds.
The most familiar sounding song on the album, “Worlds Apart” yet again has a lyrical spectacle that’s more than relatable. We’ve all had relationships turn sour on us, where we drift apart from someone we once loved, or finally decide to give up on the one we never had. Muhareb couldn’t have said it more perfectly with the lines “Even though I let her go/pushed her away when she got too close/like a fucking parasite and I’m the host.”
Existentially Wasted is a catchy, soulful snapshot of Ali Muhareb tremendous growth as a songwriter, offering a delicious taste of what’s to come from his promising musical future.