Fatima Al Qadiri’s debut effort ‘Asiatisch’ takes you on a virtual road trip through a fabricated vision of china. The album explores relationships between the east and west, whether that be stereotypical representations of Chinese culture in American media or tacky Chinese counterfeits so often found of western goods. These points are illustrated in opener ‘Shanzhai (Ft. Helen Fong)’, a nonsensical faux-Chinese cover of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing compares 2 U’. This track serves as nothing more than a statement and sets the tone for the duration of the album; Chinese motif’s refracted through the western eye.
‘Asiatisch’ is a continuation of conceptual ideals seen in 2012’s ‘Desert Strike’ EP, both using the same soundscape to illustrate her point. Qadiri fuses this signature sound with her interpretation of China – ‘Shanghai Freeway’ is a frantic burst of Asian bells and gongs behind deep swooping synth lines, the atmosphere becomes eerie and at times almost comical whilst ‘Shenzhen’ sees an eastern flute melody built around a digitized choir and grime inspired percussion.
Qadiri’s efforts are reminiscent of a tiny sub genre known as Sino-Grime, which saw London’s grime producers, for a brief period in 2003, looking to china for inspiration. The instrumentation on Sino-Grime (as heard on Preditah’s ‘The Big Wok’) tacks are more solid in terms of percussion yet ‘Asiatisch’ triumphs at delivering Qadiri’s conceptual intensions.
The digitized sound of live Asian instruments are similar to video game music, which is not surprising as she explained in a recent interview that video games were important to her during childhood and served as escapism during the conflict in Kuwait. ‘Asiatisch’ at times, sounds like Night Slugs scoring the soundtrack to a Playstaion One title, this track in particular from a Crash Bandicoot game, wouldn’t sound out of place on the album; it’s is a composition that explores Asian sounds from an American perspective, which is exactly the point of ‘Asiatisch’.
Qadiri’s ability to explore conceptual themes in her music are presented perfectly in ‘Asiatsch’, taking the listener on a journey through her ‘imaginary china’, making this debut one of the most exciting releases of 2014.
Released through Hypderdub on May 5th, you can stream lead track ‘Szechuan’ below. Purchase ‘Asiatsch’ here.