Rostam – “Unfold You”
Rostam Batmanglij has stayed busy in recent years producing some of the best, most influential albums at the intersection of pop and indie rock. Clairo’s Immunity basically invented a new kind of pop star, and Haim’s Women In Music Pt. III is still my most-played LP of 2020. But he also has been recording his own music, and it sounds like he’s nearly completed the follow-up to his 2017 solo debut Half-Light.
We don’t have much info on Rostam’s new album yet, but today we’re getting our first preview, a song he started working on within weeks after Half-Light’s release. As Rostam explains in a statement on the song’s creation, the gently woozy and off-balance “Unfold You” dates back to 2017, is built around a sample from Nick Hakim’s “Papas Fritas,” and features saxophone playing by Henry Solomon, whose work you may have heard on Haim’s Rostam-produced “Summer Girl.”
Take it away, Batmanglij:
In November 2017 I played a show with Nick Hakim at Cafe De La Danse in Paris. This was the first Rostam show outside of America. I wasn’t familiar with Nick’s music but I was immediately drawn to it. Later that night in my hotel room I was winding down after the show and listening to some of Nick’s records. The song “Papas Fritas” came on, it’s an instrumental track, and I suddenly found myself singing a melody over it and recorded that in my voice memos. Anyone writing songs probably has a few hundred voice memos on their phone. I kept coming back to this one though, and when I returned from a North American tour in February 2018 I booked some days at my favorite Vox Studios in Hollywood.
That’s where I first met Henry Solomon, who came in to play sax on “Unfold You.” I had written out some sax lines for a few sections of the song, but others we arranged together in the studio. I wasn’t exactly sure where “Unfold You” would land. I hadn’t finished writing the song, but I continued building out the track with Nick’s “Papas Fritas” as its backbone. I decided I’d let the recording process take me where it would.
“Unfold You” was the first thing me and Henry worked on. A year later, I’d ask him to come back to Vox and record some sax lines I sketched out for the song “Summer Girl,” which I was producing for Haim. Henry can also be found playing himself in PTA’s video for the song.
“Summer Girl” came out within a few months of us starting to record it, but “Unfold You” took years. In some ways it had to — because the recording of the song tracks an evolution and a metamorphosis for me. As I write this, I’m finishing a record that deals a lot with the subject of change and for this whole album, change was what I was searching for musically.
In the summer of 2016, I was sitting on a park bench on Commercial street in Provincetown, Massachusetts. I found myself in conversation with a stranger who left me with a piece of advice that has stuck with me. “Change is good,” he said, “Go with it.”
“Unfold You” arrives with a Rostam-directed video costarring actress Hari Nef. Rostam writes, “Hari and I found ourselves in the same quarantine pod in Massachusetts this past July. We also found we had a bunch in common, having gone to the same college nine years apart. The video was shot on the Dune Shacks Trail during the last several days of the trip.”