Boomkat Product Review:
Mhamad Safa's debut for Lee Gamble’s UIQ label is a revelation: anodised hi-gloss polyrhythms and aerobic mystic drills splayed against airlock electronics and occult, ritualistic vocals, an utterly compelling study in speculative rhythmic theory, exploring odd integers of Arabic and East African percussive traditions highly, highly tipped if yr into Slikback, Amazondotcom, Zuli, Xenakis!
Situated between London and Beirut; architect, researcher and musician Safa draws from a layered history of musical invocations - Moroccan and West African Gnawa, North African Rai, Sea Music, Laywa and Samiri from the Arabian Peninsula and pre-Arab Amazigh traditions - to build ultra-modernist structures that don't erase the past, but embrace it.
IBTIHALAT is a wildly futuristic album of chromium-plated sound design, hi-end micro-sampling techniques, algorithmic psychoacoustics and field recordings, with a strong grasp of history, tradition and complex rhythmic structures. It's an album that never loses its momentum with precision-engineered experimental club velocity - while simultaneously drawing parallels with ritual music and dance traditions that stretch into medieval times and beyond.
For all the high conceptualisation though, IBTIHALAT goes really fucking hard, with a visceral, immediately upfront kink that throws down thrilling, razor cut 3D ballistics and angles for dancers and DJs between the hall-of-mirrors shadowboxing of ’Supranomadic’ and the ricocheting recursions of ‘Bel Abbes’, and the elasticated Raï trills of ‘Ouda And The Strikers At Najd’ and fleet, holographic rhythmelody of ‘Gazelles’.
The more tonal-based works such as ‘Liturgis For Cyborgs’ with its glassy shards of harmonic geometry, and the shatterproof plong of ‘Fugues’ secrete complex rhythms more discretely in their make-up, and help define the album’s striking off-kilter balance between human/post-human urges and occult remainders.
If you’ve copped heat from Slikback, ZULI, Lee Gamble/Motor System, Autechre - this will do you in, guaranteed