Drawings from the Outer Realm
& Peculiar Video Game Music Reviews
Fatima Al Qadiri is an artist I rely on, providing me with a menagerie of global sounds, akin to a contorted invasion at my yearning senses. Scattered across a selection of mediums, the Kuwaiti-born, Brooklyn based artist curves her music and views into a new and fresh composure every time.
I was first introduced to the peculiar Fatima Al Qadiri via my sister who sent me a link to a mix that appeared on the über-cool New York based fashion, art and commerce site DIS Magazine. The fourteen minute mini-mix named ‘Muslim Trance’ under the mysterious guise of Ayshay is something you approach with caution, unsuspecting of its genius and hypnotic virtue. Ever since listening to this epic collage of sampled sacred Shi’ite and Sunni a-Capella, I haven’t looked back. This piece of music has affected me to such a degree I verge on being obsessed with it. I don’t think a week has gone by where I hadn’t listened to it.
I don’t have a wider knowledge of the Islamic faith and I don’t understand the Arabic language, but the piece possesses such beauty and sincerity that it merges perfectly with the slow moving trance drones around it. Dawning on Western ears, the Islamic phrases moreover serve as an instrument which Fatima claims to have found scattered across the internet. We are drawn to it. Such experimental music that happens to integrate religious aspects usually creates a barrier for the average listener; therefore it must be listened to with an open mind. And much like shifting landscapes, each segment is melded together to form a free-flowing stream of smooth elegance. Of course, it doesn’t go without its darker undercurrents and thought-provoking awkwardness; this is surely a major part of its appeal. Where would my mind be if it wasn’t for the unnerving sparks that flood the bleak recesses and alcoves of my brain? In conclusion, you could say that the ‘Muslim Trance’ mini-mix is one of my favourite pieces of music.
Born in Senegal, Fatima Al Qadiri was raised in post-Gulf War Kuwait where she analysed and consumed the many elements and unavoidable traits that account for Western subcultures. These qualities invariably helped build up a wealth of knowledge, which in time would assist with projecting her own theories and experimental bearings. She has utilised certain aspects of these cultures to mould her own work. Eventually settling in New York as a photographer and visual artist, she now contributes to DIS Magazine on a regular basis, whether it be mixes or surveying the planets obscurest international sounds in her Global.WAV blog.
The Global.WAV blog was the next step for me too. Al Qadiri submitted a thirty minute mix to Domino Records for the Domino Radio pop-up station, a week-long event of ‘out-there’ music airing across the net during June 2011. The subsequent mix is purely epic, carving an amalgamation of the strangest, corner-shoved obscurities and downright brilliant international tunes from all four corners of the globe. Fatima Al Qadiri also presented on the pre-recorded mix, opting for a bizarre cyber-galactic, vocoder-abused voice - her best line during the show being, ‘If you know the name of this song or which country it’s from you’ll get a star, cos I don’t fucking know!’ Her well-constructed piece this time consists of hyper-patriotic Iranian folk, Mongolian hip-hop, Yugoslavian trance, sacred Indonesian tunes, Chinese techno and Vietnamese electro-pop to name but a few. For a live version you could walk down Walthamstow market but this mix is far more interesting and FUN!
Some of the tracks that featured in the Domino Radio show were lifted from her Global.WAV blog. This blog serves as way of sharing some of the weirdest music videos out there, ones that sometimes do not translate to Western ears and eyes. My particular favourites of late would have to be the delightful power folk-cum-pop from Afghani duo Feroz & Naznin, the irony sometimes peddling a very arduous balancing act. Other favourites include the young Iranian trance girl singer DJ Negar, pleading with exaggerated melancholia, a collaboration between ferocious Jamaican MCs Spice and Pamputtae for their catchy Slim vs. Fluffy track and lastly the Kurdish rural rave entry which dabbles with almost freakish misunderstandings.
Fatima Al Qadiri has always been interested in fashion, recalling her time as a teenager she comments in an interview with Saudi Arabian site D’NA that “I used to read a cocktail of fashion magazines like The Face and I.D., which made me aware of designers outside the big name brands. But buying designer clothes in Kuwait as a teenager is not a remarkable act. A lot of kids in my school had far better style than I did. The difference is that I unknowingly bought timeless pieces that I’m still able to wear today.” With her music however Fatima reiterates that she doesn’t confine herself to one genre but rather creates interpretations of existing styles. This is evident in her two commercial releases.
Gaining a sure momentum in the art, music and fashion realms it was only a matter of time before our favourite genre-bending artist started releasing her own music under the Ayshay guise. If you tried hard enough, you could locate different works by Fatima Al Qadiri across the internet, composed mainly for experimental short films, innovative music videos and installations; some such being the frenzied break-beat of ‘Corpcore’ or the seriously avant-garde and totally unnerving ‘Yelwa’ with its faltering heartbeat over a series of mourning drones. But moving on…
From what I gather Ayshay roughly translates in Arabic slang as ‘whatever,’ ‘meh’ or ‘WTF!’ in a sort of exasperated tone, her choice of alias disintegrating any on-going irony about the music found within. The first 12” EP titled ‘WARN-U’ is billed as dark-wave and leads on from where the ‘Muslim Trance’ mix left off. This four track EP features Fatima’s own voice manipulated and directed to imitate Sunni and Shi’ite worship songs thus forming elusive drones and passages of mutilated reverence. It doesn’t quite sound like anything you’ve heard before, yet leaves an impressionable print on your soul. Her follow up release is the ‘Genre-Specific Xperience’ 12” EP which features an array of progressive sounds incorporating refined worldly characteristics. EP opener ‘Hip Hop Spa’ cycles a calypso melody along drainage pipe drones and stern new-wave percussion.
By no surprise her press increased dramatically in the later months of 2011, our first lady creating a buzz on both sides of the Atlantic. She gained ‘single of the week’ in UK free-sheet Metro, its run-down aptly informing us that “Fatima Al Qadiri’s debut EP reconfigures the Islamic chants of her childhood into disquieting drones and hymnal harmonies that drift over a bare heartbeat pulse like wreaths of smoke.” Other notable coverage includes write-ups in The Fader, Clash, Interview, Fact and UK national broadsheet The Guardian - its journalist Paul Lester grouping her in with other female trailblazers Diamanda Galas, Laurie Anderson, Mira Calix and Björk!
Fatima Al Qadiri and her musical output as Ayshay somehow seize my being and takes me to a utopian place where darkness is often allowed to creep in through the slight imperfections the world has to offer. Speaking in an interview with bi-monthly pop culture magazine Oyster about her music, Fatima states that “I feel like I have an allergy to most contemporary pop music… I’m trying to explore unexplored territories by marrying things that haven’t been married before.”
Surrounded by many borders, Mr Raz Mesinai transcends them all. No matter what obstacle we have to tackle or enemies we may need to defeat. The occasional overbearing emotions that cramp us all can be shaken out of our system. We can do so with the powerful sounds Badawi propels forwards. Possessing submarine like basses low down in muscles we were unaware of, a motley crew of percussion and melodies that frenetically swirl us around like a Haboob dust storm, we are boldly resisting the mundane and mainstream. Down with capitalism! Down with consumerism! We are the nomads, the Bedouin spilling out like such diaspora.
Born in Jerusalem, Raz Mesinai spent two decades traversing between his homeland and New York City experiencing traditional Middle Eastern music and ecstatic hip-hop and the underground electro of NYC. His mixture of dub, classical composition, avant-garde and electro-acoustic music is sincere, upbeat and fundamental. I dare you to keep up with him.
Mario Diaz de Leon
Absinthe trickles in the many trenches and integral moat of my flesh. It seeps and spreads, infecting my vision in the same way a virus does. Through the haze I am able to sense matter via the affecting and mystic sounds unearthed by New York resident Mario Diaz de Leon. Scattering an array of synthesizer and guitar into a playground of disquiet, a monolithic shadow of terrifying beauty is cast upon the landscape of my brain. Wonderful notes played on a flute float abound like an apparition in the cold distance. Abrupt interceptions of white noise and traumatised shards of fuzz strike in and out putting me off balance.
This is a very sincere experiment to be part of, I cannot be considered a philosopher, until I have successfully besought the base metals for transformation. Mario Diaz de Leon assists us with his incredible music. What a lovely fellow he is.
The signal slowly malfunctions ensuring a lethal drop.
Ground Control please come in: A decrease in popularity.
Distress signal to base: A fashion model tumbling on the catwalk.
This is Dexter Void to base: A severe drop in revenue equity shares.
Come in base: Running out of oxygen as mercury melts.
My transmitter is not responding, where is the wireless?
MAYDAY!! I call for my futurist engineer…
The wires flip, shooting a spark in a post-war consumerism world, their cheery smiles are wiped free of banality in this industrial factory of the 1950s, an everlasting era nearly forgotten. My Perspex dish has Euthymol squashed into a flow of Kelloggs Corn Flakes, all transported in a Buick of ’55 to the quirky car wash. I’m all disorientated yet addicted to shaking my bones and jarring my hips. This is the sound of Dymaxion.