Sound Impression: Light Leaks (for Sarah) by Yadayn

It is a strange thing to enjoy a new release from an artist whose work you admire and simultaneously wish it never had to be made. Such is the case with this new EP by Yadayn, the alias of Belgian musician Gowaart Van Den Bossche. His first new music since Elders (Lost Tribe Sound, 2020), Light Leaks (for Sarah) is a reflection on the passing of a dear friend who took her life late last year.

To read Van Den Bossche’s expository album notes is to understand what makes the music so special and searingly poignant. Before his decision to settle on an instrumental approach to Yadayn, Sarah had been a band mate and sang at a few gigs with him while they were both students in Cairo and for a time after they returned to Belgium. For the EP, Van Den Bossche has recorded new versions of two of the songs he and Sarah performed together as instrumentals, sharing that he considered the vocals and lyrics as “forever hers” and thus recorded “rough approximations” of her parts on a grand piano belonging to his girlfriend’s father in Paris (who sadly also had died a few weeks earlier).

The title track, on the other hand, came to Van Den Bossche in the weeks following Sarah’s death and he says that developing into a song helped him through the worst moments of grief during that period. It references the cover photo taken while they were together with a camera suffering from “light leaks” which account for the ghostly presence haunting the images, something Van Den Bossche sees as a metaphor both for Sarah’s presence in the music and for the profound pain that must have been “seeping” into her soul. The song includes a reading of an Arabic translation of a Victor Hugo poem which is deeply knowing of the pain of grief.

Some months after she passed away my girlfriend recommended me to read Victor Hugo’s poem “Demain dès l’aube.” I was absolutely floored by it. Sarah never particularly liked French, so I asked our friend Amr Molham to read it in Arabic, a language she loved deeply. I am grateful for Amr’s contribution and for the very particular light he was in Sarah’s life.

Gowaart Van Den Bossche

Links: Bandcamp (digital) | Yadayn

Better it would have been if this album never had a reason to come into existence but immersed in the pining beauty of these bittersweet songs, it is hard to think of a better example of the healing power of music or a more eloquent remembrance of a friend and young life gone far too soon.

Light Leaks (for Sarah) is available directly from the artist via Bandcamp and was mastered by Jimmy Van Rietvelde. Proceeds from sales of the EP will be donated to charities working with refugees (Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen) and providing assistance for those struggling with suicidal thoughts (Zelfmoordlijn).