Fatima Al Qadiri – Gumar
Gumar, the latest EP from the sensational Fatima Al Qadiri, is a shimmering example of cultural fusion at its best. Her inclusion of Arabic culture and heritage in the otherwise whitewashed sphere of ambient and downtempo is a breath of fresh air, as was her early work which traversed the landscape of experimental dance music and underground hip-hop. In this respect, Al Qadiri is something of a trailblazer, and her bold choices have arguably made her an essential voice for the visibility of Middle Eastern women in electronic music.
With Gumar, Al Qadiri’s continued evolution from her last album, Medieval Femme, is apparent. While Gumar is a continuation of the themes explored on Medieval Femme, it does so through the lens of community rather than the personal. Whereas Medieval Femme was an exploration of Al Qadiri’s “delirious romantic Arabesque fantasy,” Gumar opens up this fantasy to include another voice. Al Qadiri brings in Kuwaiti vocalist Gumar, the namesake of the EP, and the result is pure magic.
The combination of Al Qadiri’s synths and Gumar’s vocals showcase the resonant parallels between traditional Arabic singing and Western ambient music. Gumar’s lyrics on the EP are nothing short of stunning. More poetry than song, these are the kinds of words that express regret about unrequited love in gorgeously heightened fashion. On Mojik (Your Waves), this story is told by personifying the tide, with waves of synths wrapping themselves around Gumar’s pining vocals. Gumar’s voice as both foil and equal to Al Qadiri’s electronics is powerful. On Mereim, it dances with Al Qadiri’s synths in a meeting of the organic and the mechanic. The result is an unforgettably haunting and beautiful soundscape that pushes the boundaries of Al Qadiri’s style and Hyperdub’s usual catalogue.
Overall, Gumar is a brilliant and awe-inspiring EP that showcases Fatima Al Qadiri’s incredible talent as a musician and cultural trailblazer. She’s a visionary who isn’t afraid to take risks and break boundaries, and Gumar is further proof that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her synths are modern and bold, crashing against the shore like the waves summoned by Gumar’s words. She proves that when you take different musical and cultural influences and blend them together, the result can be breathtaking.
Listen to Mojik (Your Waves) from Gumar below.
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