- Mesmerising club constructions rooted in Arab music traditions.
- Describing her relationship to Arab music, Deena Abdelwahed said she re-appropriates its sounds to confront the region's ongoing social and political issues. Using her seemingly scholarly knowledge of contemporary leftfield club music, the Tunisian artist fuses musical traditions, crafting unflinching tracks. On her 2018 debut album, Khonnar, spoken word and discordant melodies simmered above rugged, crisp percussion to create a tense effect. It sounded even better in the club, maintaining a hypnosis-like spell over adventurous dancers.
On Dhakar, Abdelwahed delves deeper into the rhythmic element that made her previous release such a knotty pleasure. Skittering clicks, a lurching bassline and off-kilter drums dominate "Ah'na Hakkeka"—like a Shackleton track but coiled tighter—while "Zardet Sidi Bagra" is a syncopated bruiser of woody thwacks. True to form, Abdelwahed explores another strong thematic angle rooted in her own experiences of North Africa.
Dhakar, which means "male" in Arabic, is suffused with men, or what sounds like them. On "Lila Fi Tounes," Abdelwahed pitches her own voice down to mimic a silky voiced crooner. Elsewhere, recordings of drunk men singing Egyptian Tarab music and swirling folky violins tilt the tracks towards an ominous mood. Such details, deftly knitted into these experimental, mesmerising club constructions, emphasise Abdelwahed's unwavering viewpoint, inextricable from the traditions—local or otherwise—she channels.
A1 Lila Fi Tounes
A2 Ah'na Hakkeka
B2 Zardet Sidi Bagra