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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Album review: Fatima Al Qadiri – Asiatisch

The Kuwaiti-born musician appears to have blossomed into an artist where boundaries – be they international or sonic – are rendered moot.
The cover art of Fatima Al Qadiri's Asiatisch album. Courtesy Fatima Al Qadiri
The cover art of Fatima Al Qadiri's Asiatisch album. Courtesy Fatima Al Qadiri

Fatima Al Qadiri

Asiatisch

(Hyperdub)

Four stars

Geographically pinning down ­Fatima Al Qadiri – raised in Kuwait but now based between London and New York – isn’t straight­forward, even ­before you hit play on her otherworldly, Chinese-fixated debut album.

That Asiatisch is German for “Asian” provides some guidance. Yet darker inspirations lurk among the undergrowth of her Sino-themed, Euro-influenced electronic landscapes: shards of grime’s icy bass and sparse percussion; ghosts of Amon Tobin or Björk’s explorative extremes. Asiatisch’s introduction is Shanzhai, named – with a wink – after a term for Chinese bootleg goods.

It’s a remarkable cover of Nothing Compares 2 U (made famous by Sinéad O’Connor), reworded in deliberately nonsensical Mandarin by its guest vocalist, Helen Feng. Elsewhere, Al Qadiri has labelled Szechaun “my Chinese-­restaurant track”, but expect paranoid flashbacks should you ever dine in such a claustrophobic, flute-haunted establishment.

Having previously released a triptych of Islamic-­inspired EPs under the alias Ayshay, Al Qadiri appears to have blossomed into an artist for whom boundaries – be they international or sonic – are rendered moot. Asiatisch sounds like little else out there right now.

aworkman@thenational.ae