Boomkat Product Review:
Thanks to reissue schemers such as Sublime Frequencies, Sahel Sounds, Honest Jon's and Soul Jazz, we've been introduced to mind-blowing music from all corners of the globe, but to the best of our knowledge we've never yet encountered music from the Arab peninsula of Yemen. 'Qat, Coffee & Qambus - Raw 45s from Yemen' is a fascinating, arresting compilation of rare, Yemeni vinyl singles showcasing the little-documented, evolving local music styles in the 1960s and '70s. As we're reliably informed by Parlortone, "although part of the classical Arabic musical tradition, the music of Yemen takes its rhythmic lead as much from the East African coast (a mere 20 miles across the Red Sea) as the surrounding Arab Pensinsula". To our untrained ears, the combination of sharp, cyclical string melodies and swaying rhythms recalls everything from HJ's 'Give Me Love' collection of Iraqi love songs to the desert pop of Group Doueh and even elements of the rawest Ethiopiques records - which admittedly covers thousands of miles and decades between them - but without getting all ethnomusicologist on you (well, we couldn't if we tried) that's pretty much what springs to mind. But unique to this record are some incredible moments, not least the calligraphic, poetic swirl of vocals and filigree oud syncopation in Mohammed Hamood Al-Awami's 'Hom Bel Hawa Ya Nas Walaoni (They Made Me Fond Of Love)' or, weirdly enough, Fatima Al-Zaelaeyah's opening salvo 'Ya Mun Dakhal Bahr Al-Hawa (Hey, Who Enters The Sea Of Passion)' whose resonating drums uncannily mirror the metallic, electronic twang of AFX's 'Alberto Balsam'.