As inviting as house music is, the genre rarely provides material that sounds genuinely fresh. Those looking for something that sounds new generally end up at the fringes of experimental techno or the complex web of styles that have emerged from the bass scene. Often most intriguing are the artists that sit between the two camps, frequently incorporating non-Western artists and sounds.
A new artist capitalising on this fertile territory is Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed. Her debut EP on French label Infiné offers a blend of fractured drumscapes and references to her musical roots, feeling its way towards a future for Arab club music. If this music is a vision of the future, it’s surely a dystopia.
The four tracks on the Klabb EP boast a remarkably confident vision for a debut, trading in shattered rhythms, venomous blasts of noise and strangled vocal samples. Jalel Brick Rrumi opens in a gritty techno mould, its fuzzy vocals smothered by ominous atmospherics and ever-shifting drum patterns. The entrance of a smoky string sample is counterpointed by a squealing alarm synth, gesturing to Abdelwahed’s heritage without resorting to stereotype.
The influences of UK bass music come through more sharply on Walk On, Nothing To See Here, where pitchshifted vocals trade blows over a stripped rhythm. Ena Essbab does one better, its military drums joined by swift rolls of tabla. It’s easy to imagine those beats doing damage on the dancefloor, but the atmosphere relies on the sinister intimacy of Abdelwahed’s own singing. Her vocals are layered and pitchshifted until they’re suffocated by grey synth swells and mounting rhythmic pressure.
The tone of the release is pitch-black from the start, but closer Klabb V2 takes it a step further. This dank dungeon stomper is for the heads, its slow rhythm assailed by rough squalls of noise, slowing down dizzyingly over the second half of the track. It’s a brutal, uncompromising end to a thrilling debut. For Abdelwahed nothing is holy: both Western electronic tradition and the music of her Arab heritage are available to be exploited, deconstructed and shaped anew.