Unlike SADAF's live performances, SHELL's focus is her voice. Childlike squeaks, spoken-word phrases, whimpers, moans and shrieks clash with atonal instrumentation. It's like a haphazard tapestry that can't quite hold itself together. The EP's theme is about trying to make a film without the means or skills to do so. Beginning with unnerving chattering and a sad synth, "OK, I Wrote A Film," hears SADAF detail ripping up her script and starting over—most of the EP has a destructive slant to match. It runs from haywire drill & bass ("Let It Burn," "I Don't Own Anything") and deranged pop ("Thingy") to Velvet Underground-like drone ("Atish"). There are few breathers from her rapid spray of sounds.
With SADAF's violin mostly reduced to scraping squeaks, SHELL is a confrontational record that can feel sparse one moment and dense the next. It's personal but also impenetrable, full of hooks that get washed away by an overspill of ideas. It's an exciting debut that presents a new artist still getting a handle on what she can do. But when she does, the results are tender, intimate and unique.