Fatima Al Qadiri - Desert Strike

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  • Fatima Al Qadiri was nine when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, triggering a chain of events that would lead to the first Gulf War. The Senegal-born, Kuwait-raised visual artist and producer has since recounted some of the horrific experiences she underwent in subsequent months. Little more than a year later, Al Qadiri was experiencing those horrors again—through a TV screen. It is her experience of playing Sega Mega Drive game Desert Strike—a shoot 'em up based on the Gulf War—that inspires this EP of the same name: the visceral but curiously passive insult of having your own traumas glossed up and packaged as entertainment. The themes of this EP and her past work situate Al Qadiri, now based in Brooklyn, as part of a brace of contemporary artists exploring the strange contours of globalised culture and the ambivalent relationship between late capitalist consumerism and its subjects—but the personal angle of this release gives it particular resonance. In musical terms, Al Qadiri works with a hybrid language that draws as much on melodically forthright grime of the Ruff Sqwad variety as it does the low-budget grandiosity of the video game OSTs it seeks to satirise. Enjoyment of this EP beyond its concept—and there is plenty to like—is contingent on your ability to enjoy the cheap plastic sound of early '90s digitality: MIDI choirs, brash horn-like tones, sample-pack gunshots and explosions. Intriguingly, there's a basic duality here that's never quite resolved: between, on the one hand, the urge to critique, to gain ironic distance from this sonic world; and on the other a clear love for the sounds being employed. It's when the latter wins out that Desert Strike becomes truly affecting, as in the mournful "Oil Well," an elegy to a scarred childhood perhaps, or to the dislocating logic of the global culture that shaped it.
  • Tracklist
      A1 Ghost Raid A2 Oil Well A3 War Games B1 Desert Strike B2 Hydra