Album: Karima Walker – Waking the Dreaming Body review

by Philip Moss

As experimental as it is rooted in folk traditions, Waking the Dreaming Body is a journey through light, dark & the blurriness in between – from a songwriter in control

Karima Walker’s 2017 debut full length, Hands in Our Names, evolved during a period of time spent in the New Mexico desert – and saw the songwriter pairing acoustic guitars from the folk traditions with slow, wandering instrumental pieces. And it is in the sound collages, which were interspersed throughout her debut, that Walker mainly focuses on here – as she reaches out to seemingly pluck the album from the 360 degree, star filled Arizona sky that now surrounds her.

 Lead single, Reconstellated, opens the collection – but is not really a sign post. It is enigmatic, and has commonality with the patient brilliance of last year’s Gia Margaret’s album, Mia Gargaret. Walker’s words here are filmic – there is a strong sense of metaphorical ambiguity and modesty; the songwriter much happier posing questions, rather than offering answers.

But she is also a writer who uses her art as a quest – on Softer, she voyages freely, as much through sound as words, and despite it being a long player filled with rich imagery, the quiet spaces speak as loudly as her poetic verses. For every note of melody, there is a section of drone, or buried radio broadcast picked up by Walker’s metal detecting ear.

On Window I, though, the two combine. Its percussion feels sporadic – almost like it’s been lifted from another song – but, somehow, it still manages to work in perfect unison. Before the end of the track sees Walker opens the shutters, as the song intertwines with a field recording – enveloping its listener in the brush of the sea breeze.

Perhaps appropriate, the highlight of the collection is the title track – the moment where experimentation steps aside for a moment – Walker’s chiming guitar cutting through behind her voice almost like a harp. Her tone is in touch with nature. It’s the most comfortable she sounds at any point on the record, as she guides us through the process of consciously bringing her vessel to life each day. Waking the Dreaming Body is the work of a songwriter in control.

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