Friday, October 28, 2022

Al-Qasar - Who Are We? [Glitterbeat Records]

Released On September 16th, 2k22 via the ever active and ever interesting label Glitterbeat Records is "Who Are We?", the global debut album for the Middle Eastern-located Psych Rock / Arabian Fuzz collective Al-Qasar after their 2020 underground longplayer "Miraj". Rolled out over the course of eight tunes and a total playtime of roughly 45 minutes the multinational group with roots in Paris does not only see top tier legends like Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth or the man known as Jello Biafra and others stop by for occasional guest slots on certain album tracks but manages to capture both feveri'ish, high noon desert vibes as well spine-tingling tension in their tracks from the very first second of the opener "Awtar Al Sharq" onwards which makes one think of lost cities and tumbleweed making its way across endless barren plains whereas pieces like the subsequent "Awal" provide an ever spiralling and climaxing maelstrom of hypnotic drum rhythms and slightly varied repetitions that turns every moshpit into a congregation of amateur dervish dancers and "Ya Malak" brings forth aggressive, militant and thundering complex drum funk alongside seductive and catchy melodic elements thrown at us by both vocals and electric saz. Furthermore "Hobek Thawart" taps deep into Arab x African polyrhythms and uplifting, yet intense female vocals as well as a killer mid-track drum breakdown that needs to be used and abused by contemporary Illbient x Mutant HipHop producers on the spot whilst "Sham System" turns out to be a slightly dubbed out, bass heavy 4/4-based instrumental smasher which is about to rock dancefloors from Cairo to Paris and Mumbai, "Barbes Barbes" walks the line between traditional Arab Spoken Word singing, heavy Rock guitars and contemporary Dope Beat x HipHop vibes and therefore is another candidate for big time crowd response and bopping heads all over the place, the sound of "Benzine" is as thunderous, explosive and high octane-fueled as its title and therefore is one of our favorites on "Who Are We?" whereas the closing cut "Mal Wa Jamal" pushes the energy levels even further with its highly seductive vocals and captivating attitude. Highly recommended, despite the fact that a majority of Western listeners might not get the meaning of the songs due to an obvious lack of knowledge of the Arabic language and therefore will most likely take the lyrics for another, yet well fascinating, musical element.

Album artwork on Instagram!


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