Boomkat Product Review:
Phenomenal follow-up to Msylma's 2019's debut "Dhil-un Taht Shajarat Al-Zaqum". Msylma again sings in classical Arabic, using pre-Islamic poetic forms to tell densely layered stories over Ismael's head mangling weightless electronics. RIYL Fatima Al Qadiri, Abdullah Minawy, Scott Walker, Thoom.
"The Tenets of Forgetting" was recorded in Cairo between 2015 and 2020 and finds Ismael in the producer's chair, handling the album's syrupy electronic backdrop. But the star is once again Msylma, who channels his spirit and emotion into words, phrases and stanzas that dance across Ismael's restrained productions with grace and form. Msylma's tone and delivery harvests an emotional bounty that peals across borders and lifetimes, speaking directly to a root culture that underpins all music. His range is impressive, but it's Msylma's ability to balance the ancient and modern that truly stands out here - over crumbled electronics and sparse 808 thuds, he cries with romantic authenticity. On 'The Lovers' Creed' he wonders over melancholy chords and chest-rattling sub bass, "are you deaf and mute in the language of love?" His Autotuned voice sounds caught between classical Arabic music and cloud rap, carefully treading across cultures without descending into con-fusion.
'The Followers Path' shuttles subtle rhythms into the structure, echoing Logos or Rabit's weightless productions with glassy synth FX and punctuating low-end pulses. But there's nothing particularly minimal about Ismael's backdrops, they're grandiose in scope, with sweeping melodies and soaring arpeggios, disrupted by heaving cybernetic gurgles and pneumatic squelches. Sickly sweet electric piano chords guide 'The Tenets of Forgiveness', and Msylma's vocal strikes a reconciliatory note: "I will kill myself but not before offering a prayer of atonement to my goddess," he cries. Erupting in a euphoric throb of powerful bass and synth, the chorus sounds like an ascent to the heavens, pointing to the stars. The album plummets back down to earth on 'Abiding Trails', burying Msylma's serenades in a gloopy fog of acidic electronics and dissociated percussion; "I abandon our bodies like dirty rags reeking of sin."
Msylma and Ismael bring their collaboration to a frothy head with the closing epic 'Enter Stage Right', letting damaged, noisy pads sublime into trance arpeggios beneath Msylma's most operatic vocal turn. It's the kind of track that would melt the heart of even the most dedicated ice queen, effortlessly emotional but tweaked with an experimental mindset that manages to reference Scott Walker, Abdullah Minawy, Cluster and David Sylvian simultaneously. Seriously we're bowled over by this one.