Boomkat Product Review:
The solo debut by Mecca-based Msylma is a compelling coming-of-age tale sung in classical Arabic and set to stark, mystic electronic production by Zuli, 1127 and the artist himself for Rabit’s pioneering Halcyon Veil label.
A profoundly original record steeped in millennia of pre-Islamic (pagan) and Islamic theology and Arabic tradition, ظل تحت شجرة الزقوم which translates into "a patch of shade under the zaqum tree" sees Myslma convey an ancient sense of existential angst via the contemporary prism of electronic music in his singular style of emo-R&B and weightless grime expression. Although entirely sung in a form of classical Arabic that even modern day speakers may not comprehend, Msylma’s impassioned delivery and intonation conveys the gravity of the album’s themes in no uncertain terms.
Whether channelling a pained sort of R&B/soul spirit in the aching delivery and floating chords of opener ‘Inqirad (Rihab-U Dhakir)’, singing from the midst of a weightless grime skirmish in ‘Min Bab AlKamal-i w AlDawam’, or scaling the lofty heights of ‘Astaqi AlGhamam’, this is an album that will stick in the mind long after the music stops playing, opening windows into parallel dimensions as fascinating and dramatic as the visions of Scott Walker, as haunting as Omar Souleyman’s lamenting mawwals, or futuristic as Fatima Al Qadiri.