Fatima Al Qadiri - Asiatisch (LP)
Senegal-born, Kuwait-raised, New York-based producer Fatima Al Qadiri works in the opposite direction of most artists' discographies by making her third substantial release, following the Genre-Specific Xperience (UNO) and Desert Strike (Fade to Mind) EPs, her least personal one yet. The former connected materialistic aspects of Middle Eastern and Western cultures while dipping into several strains of dance music, as well as some of the styles she heard in her youth. The baleful latter conveyed the desensitized, escapist feeling she had as a preteen playing a Gulf War-themed video game shortly after living through the conflict.
On Asiatisch, Al Qadiri devises a soundtrack for an imagined or (mis-)interpreted form of China. When this was released, she had yet to visit the country, though she was well aware of how it is fetishized, caricatured, and demonized by outsiders. Oddly enough, she was unaware that Hyperdub head Kode9 had termed certain U.K. grime tracks like Preditah's "The Big Wok" -- a favorite of hers -- as "sino grime" and made a mix out of that and other Chinese-themed tracks back in 2005.
The album begins somewhat contrarily, with the beatless and elegiac "Shanzhai" -- which incorporates a translated a cappella recording of Helen Feng singing the Prince composition "Nothing Compares 2 U." The following tracks, several of which are named after cities and locations, incorporate sampled or synthesized analogs of struck and plucked instruments, as well as woodwinds. Otherwise, they're not exactly stylistic departures from Al Qadiri's past work, rhythmically tricky with chilling and occasionally alienating qualities transmitted through sweeping and swarming synthesizers and distant voices.
The most direct track is the shuffling "Dragon Tattoo," a kind of parody involving cooed refrains of "I got a dragon tattoo on my arm, and I mean to cause you harm" and "Speak Chinese, if you please." Tuning out the conceptual aspect is close to impossible, but there are some moments -- as in the hypnotic "Shanghai Freeway" -- that can be enjoyed on a purely musical level.
Shanzhai (For Shanzhai Biennial)
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