Maya Aghniadis loves to invent her own language. She comments good news with Bombastic! or Boom! and refers to all kinds of things and activities as “shizzle” (which, for the Cambridge dictionary, is “a more polite word used instead of the word shit”). Some may say this is gibberish and also will declare it gibberish when it comes to Flugen, the name of Maya Aghniadis’ musical project. According to the Urban Dictionary, Flugen (actual spelling Flügen) means everything and nothing. Maya herself said it in an interview with Project Revolver in 2019: Flugen was a word she used a lot when she didn’t know what to say. She has always been better with music than with words.
And then again, Flugen (the expression) is more than anything and everything. It is what you make of it. For some Flugen is synonymous for a relaxed lifestyle, for others it’s basically just going with life and enjoying the hell out of it. Do not get me wrong: that is not to say that Maya Aghniadis hasn’t any serious ambitions for Flugen (the music). That is not to say that Maya is careless and too easy going on herself when creating music. Quite to the contrary. However, for this writer, Poupayee, Flugen’s new album is the first Flugen record that fully matches the musical goals that Maya Aghniadis has set for herself. Poupayee is not anything, but it is everything and it defines a new musical lifestyle called ethno-electro-jazz. Also in music Maya Aghniadis has invented her own language.
Poupayee has to be viewed and consumed as an album, as a whole, and not as a compilation of songs. One thing leads to another, the sequence of the tracks matters - the track you are hearing, the track before and the track afterwards - and the entire experience when listening to Poupayee is bigger than the sum of its single tracks. “Poupayee tells the story of the different states that a mind can go through,” says Maya Aghniadis. “With every step we come closer to surrender and release to all the shapes of truth.”
For impatient characters such as myself, listening to Flugen can be a challenge. Maya Aghniadis has a unique way of composing her music in an almost meditation-like fashion, building up momentum and tension very slowly, very delicately, only step by step. Sometimes it feels like lying on the beach in a hammock, smoking a joint and looking out to the calm sea and waiting for the next wave to break at the shore. This can take a while, but just observing the serenity of the sea brings you the ease of mind that you had been yearning for. When the wave finally arrives, it just might be the next tsunami that surprises you once again. You may run from your hammock but you cannot hide from Flugen’s beats.
Maya Aghniadis knows that for some listeners her music feels wobbly. Like a dancer on a rope cautiously trying to hold his balance before he sets one foot forward to precariously move ahead. “That’s not wobbly, that’s just the Flugen craziness”, she says, laughing. Maya is different from the rest of us and so is her music.
The music of Poupayee is mostly based on synthesizers and piano, at times underlaid with heavy beats that can probably be felt down on ground floor (I live on fourth floor). Add to this an occasional flute that represents the ethno part of the Flugen sound and the clarinet of Pol Seif. The album starts out rather calm and peaceful but by track three and four - Shades of Blues and Different Ways - hints and flavors of a more dangerous world start to emerge. At first, one barely notices them until we arrive at The Lodge (track 6) where our conscious meets the subconscious and Flugen makes us lose ourselves to a repetitive and broken beat. We then realize that Something Wild (track 7) is bound to happen and that the Peak (track 8) is near where will discover our sensual selfs.
"Words are not the essence!"
Such a journey to the truth is never easy as Where To? (track 9) demonstrates. Marwan Tohme (of Lebanon’s indie rock band Postcards) adds his ominous guitar to the Flugen sound and makes this track dark and frightening. We are almost inclined to turn around, not daring to stay the course and to break through this heart of darkness. This would have been a grave error because the final track of Flugen’s new album - Surrender & Release - introduces us to a new world where beautiful melodies fill the air and love takes over.
“Words are not the essence,” Maya Aghniadis explains when describing Poupayee, “gibberish sounds such as the title track itself can bring out the truth more than words”. Music and the emotions it is able to evoke and convey is like a foam, filling the empty spaces in our bodies and our minds. Words can never reach where music can. It is said that children and fools always speak the truth. If the truth lies in gibberish words such as Boom!, Flugen and Poupayee, and in the music these words provoke and entail, then I happily admit: I’m a fool! Poupayee is indeed BOMBASTIC.
You can listen to Poupayee on all streaming platforms worldwide. Go here.
Kurt is based in Bern and Beirut is his second home. Always looking for that special angle, he digs deep into people, their stories and creations, with a sweet spot for music.
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