- The quartet harnesses the beauty of Arabic on this sombre EP.
- Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with a rich and complex history. In the hands of writers and musicians, it has been used to craft some of the world's greatest art. Yet the representation of Arabic in Western culture generally boils down to a series of damaging stereotypes. You're unlikely to hear an Arabic guest spot in a pop track as you might Spanish. In electronic music, this is starting to change. Over the last year, bold experimental releases by ZULI, Deena Abdelwahed and MSYLMA have proven the language as multifaceted and beautiful as any other.
Add to this Egyptian poet and musician Abdullah Miniawy, whose career as a vocalist ranges from rapping to Sufi chanting (he also sang and wrote lyrics for Abdelwahed's LP). Frustrated by the repression of free speech under Egypt's President Sisi, Miniawy moved to France. This is his third collaboration with the German electronic trio Carl Gari, made up of Jonas Yamer, Till Funke and Jonas Friedlich. The ensemble returns to the murky, malevolent sound that emerged fully formed on their debut for Trilogy Tapes in 2016.
Carl Gari's intricate productions are structured patiently, working their magic slowly on tracks like "Zyaj زياج," where delicate synths flutter and die above groaning bass figures, before dissolving into a plaintive trumpet coda. They have forged a powerful sonic signature, but the funereal mood is so unwavering that it threatens to wear thin over 30 minutes. It is saved by the dynamism of Miniawy's voice, which growls, weaves and soars, offering flickers of hope and muttering bitter mantras.
His lyrics, available online in an English translation by Yamer, are an elliptical poetry, angry and melancholic. In the EP's centrepiece, "B'aj بعاج", Miniawy's protagonist commits suicide by jumping from the eighth floor of a building, painting portraits of Egyptian society through the windows on his way down: a population characterised by distrust and hopelessness. Carl Gari's oppressive sound design seethes all around, evoking an underworld of grimy alleyways, twisted metal and thousands of suspicious eyes.
A1 Zawaj زواج
A2 A'laj علاج
A3 Zyaj زياج
B1 Haj حاج
B2 B'aj بعاج
B3 Hela هيلا