Tangled in a past mindset and a longing echo, sobhhï sensually appeases upon his first EP of the year, BLACK I. Despite it being a 4-track offering, the potency and weight of the tracks encapsulate a luxurious love, focusing on lust, control, acceptance, and temptation. Conducting moods with ease, the alternative R&B artist continues his precise thought process throughout his colored released palette and displays a stern sense of intimacy while attempting to maintain control.
As past releases have been remarkable in their own feat of sobhhïs signature trapsoul, BLACK I caters to a specific taste bud, or more so a previous taste; a craving. Appealing not only to the primal instincts that are blushingly presented on the lines of the artist’s first single this year, "facts up (الحين)," an intellectual desire seeps from the night owl. Drenched in black and white, sobhhï nods at his nocturnal influences and creates a lush yet minimalistic soundscape.
“I wanted to create an experience of night time and nocturnalism through the music; to experience something moving, extremely visceral; romantic, sensual, and dangerous… I would consider the BLACK series of EPs to be my most essential work, this is only the introduction,” explains sobhhï on the project.
What reads as an open letter to sobhhï’s muse, who seems to haunt past releases, tracks are penned with an ambivalent caress. Revisiting the EP’s lead single, “facts up (الحين)”, sobhhï’s first portrayals are that of passionate wants. Immersing Arabic delicately and almost unnoticeable at first, the interplay of languages is gorgeous. More than the language itself, the specific lines chosen – Abgha ashofek alheen (I want to see you now) – are traits of love that sobhhï gifts the EP’s love interest, and a sincerity that cannot be overlooked.
Speaking from the same sentiment, the EP’s second single is possibly the most satisfying performance from the collection. “sometimes” acts as a bare confession led by a cool toned electrical guitar and faint, dramatic keys that relish the pristine sheen of the EP’s fluidity. A deeper connection is felt and heard as sobhhï’s emotive tone becomes nourishment for the track. Visually stirring, the track once again revisits a fanciful fantasy which is somberly shaded.
Revealing more elements of sobhhï, another delectable emerges as the dreamy, downtempo cut, “4am in riyadh.” The personal narrative and intimate references of Saudi Arabia circulate around a specific moment in time, while a distain beat guides sobhhï’s vocals for a rather creamy effect. Each line is muffled under a light reverb and weaves – what seems to be samples of classic Arabic cinema – within the track.
Lyrically, this track stands out from the rest for its blunt honesty and raw dissertation. “Those lines you used to hit me with in summertime / On those summer nights” reflect the present mindset of sobhhï who once again seems to be stuck in his head. Focus revolves around the time from her eyes, noting usual conversations that emerge around 4 a.m. in Saudi’s capital. Despite the history of the relationship, the track accepts the vital role she plays in sobhhï’s life. Whereas “pust caf” balances the EP’s emotional display and slightly pulls back, maneuvering who is in control: “Got me coming to my senses / Falling back into our past tense.” A brassy production and fade out melts the wax, hides obvious feelings, and closes the project just as it opened.
Dressed up as a modern noir score of contemporary sounds, BLACK I is an impressive and rather deep, intimate portrayal. Against the contemplation and resounding love that the EP offers, there is still an underlying tone of assertiveness that sobhhï executes. Streamlining every aspect of his craft, sharing his label and clothing line, NUIT SANS FIN (night without end), sobhhï’s BLACK I is a display of his mastery, flaunting his drive for future releases this year.
BLACK I was produced entirely by sobhhï and mastered by Mike Bozzi (9x Grammy-nominated mastering engineer, for his work with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Post Malone among others). sobhhï is set to release 3 more color-themed EPs this year.