The Inner and The Outer by Natacha Atlas

I had the great privilege of chatting with Natacha and Samy about The Inner and The Outer, and life, the universe, making music and the pandemic a little while ago – listen here.

The Inner and The OuterSome immediate impressions

The Inner and The Outer is a departure from the jazz feel of Natacha’s last album, Strange Days. Whilst it is a return to electronica, sample loops and beats, it also carries a lot of jazz with it. And there’s the undertow of something else too, something thoughtful, considered and compassionate.

Staccato, discordant piano cut ups open The Outer, with its tale of lucid dreaming amid an increasingly dystopic world driven by commerce at the expense of humanity and environment – are we awake or are we in a nightmare? Alcyona Mick’s piano runs forwards, then backwards. Beats shuffle and stumble, loop back and repeat.

The Inner conjures an ethereal mood – here is a soft-focus sunlit inner world, calling forth a kind of force field. This is a track I’m going to revisit because it is the foundation of all that follows in this masterly and inventive EP.

Inner Sunset, uses incantation, repetition, spare use of cut ups and live beats with flugelhorn loops which soars wildly … and Natacha’s voice one instrument among the ensemble.

This is a fascinating journey …

The Inner Dimension starts coolly, a repeated dampened piano note echoes as other sounds gradually weave in. We are weightless; held, as we dive deeper. Unlike much electronica, this is a warm sound. And then the siren like quality of Natacha’s voice calls us gradually up towards a new dawn.

Inner Stardust feels like waking up in a sunlit nursery; was what just passed a dream? Then Natacha’s voice reminds you that it wasn’t. Cut ups evoke that child like sense of finding your feet and feeling like you could run, then realising that you can’t, and stumbling. But you go again. You are not defeated. And all you around glitters stardust, glinting in the sun … you are going to be just fine.

This ambient fusion of psychedelia, jazz and electronica is all of a piece.

Voice, synths, flugelhorn and strings blend together. Beats don’t drive. You aren’t rushed.

This is meditative, experimental, brave, vital and exciting new work calling for a new spirit, a rebirth.

The siren like quality of Natacha’s voice and the way she chooses to use it here is fascinating, one instrument among many, and even more bewitching for it.

This EP is the sound of two musical minds at their inventive peak.

In our podcast conversation – listen here – Natacha spoke of how the compositions symbolise our outer world, a place which is physical in form and solid in its expression, like a sculpture, but also “filled with chaos, fear, mistrust, separation and division, as we have seen through this pandemic …”. She went on to say that “they also call to the world to discover its inner nature through hope, meditation and prayer.” 

Did I love The Inner and The Outer?

Yes. Yes. Yes, and yes again and again.

This is music to heal to, and it is a keeper.

Natacha Atlas’s Website