Fatima Al Qadiri has already released one mind-expanding EP this year, “WARN-U” under the Ayshay guise on Tri-Angle Records. Now releasing on the excellent new UNO imprint (barely seven months old and already responsible for stellar releases from Jacques Greene, Eddie Mars and CFCF), Al Qadiri is delivering us a “Genre Specific Xperience”.
Opener “Hip Hop Spa” kicks off with a haunting arpeggiated marimba line, around which Al Qadiri builds an ethereal yet menacing sonic palette of bass boom, clap and reverb. The one-note choral vocals evoke “Music For Airports”, if those airports were trapped in horror movie hell. What truly sets this track apart is direction in which she takes that first simple melody – far away from any traditional or conventional chord structure, one can never tell where þhe next phrase will land, and when the same melody is played by a synth that’s both distorted and restrained, it’s clear that all bets are off. D-medley is brighter and less intimidating, using a similar marimba sound but in an almost bouncy major key. Crashing percussion and searing basslines add a sense of foreboding but it never quite goes into the realm of the menacing. Despite the massive gulf in sonic textures, the only parallel I can draw to this other-worldly music is Salem. The production methods and style may be starkly different, but no other music has thrilled and unsettled me in equal measure since.
“How Can I Resis U” pitches a dark and gurgling bassline against a high-pitched repeated call of “How Can I, How Can I, How Can I Resis U“, which at times sounds almost like “I’ll kill you” – only adding to the air of terror. The track also features a sizzling synth line that sums up that trance-meets-dubstep sound prevalent of late. “Vatican Vibes” kick off with the sound of Gregorian chant only to descend to the depths of the scuzzy, angry dubstep. There’s a brass section that rears its head at key moments to add an feeling of epic grandeur. At one point the Gregorian chant returns, in a different key to the notes around it – but then the whole track’s key changes, as we return to the unpredictablity of “Hip Hop Spa”. And then those epic horns are back to close wrap things up against a melange of phrases across different keys, octaves and instrumental styles. Which could be said for the whole EP really. Closer “Corpcore” is a frustrating track, as beats and synths clash and collide, never quite falling in line. Heavily reverbed claps dance around a 4/4 structure that echoes inside the mind.
With the release preceded by a screening of the accompanying videos and a discussion surrounding the inspiration for the project – not to mention the Ayshay release – it’s clear thet Al Qadiri is a truly contemporary artist. This fusion of religious, traditional and electronic music is something that sounds wholly and entirely new, every time you listen to it.