9/10• Ghost Raid
• Oil Well
• War Games
• Desert Strike
• Hydra Following last year’s Genre-Specific Xperience EP, an audiovisual deconstruction of “modern dance”, and the ghostly interpretations of Islamic chants of Warn-U (released under the name of Ayshay), Fatima Al Qadiri’s latest set is her most developed and autobiographical conceptual niche yet.
In 1991, nine-year-old Al Qadiri was caught up in the Gulf War invasion of Kuwait. The next year, while her school was closed and her country began to recuperate, she and her sister developed an addiction to the tastelessly xenophobic American videogame ‘Desert Strike: Return To The Gulf’, which strongly alluded to the conflicts she’d survived. This EP is a document of that confused escapism, wordlessly recalling the Iraqi occupation through the lens of her childhood. But how far can a largely instrumental EP accurately reflect, and then stand separately from, such esoteric aims?
Al Qadiri amalgamates early-IDM analogue synths and the driving, minimalist beats of grime, and the result is thoroughly chilling, all minor-key polyphonies and haunting vocal sighs. On opener ‘Ghost Raid’, heavy punching beats accentuate ominous bass swells, but by closer ‘Hydra’ the hits have been stripped away, leaving just steel drums and atmospherics. Most harrowing, though, is Al Qadiri’s use of disturbingly realistic gunshot noises – not just the clicks and bangs of firearms but even the cold clatter of shells on concrete (‘Oil Well’).
Themes of memory, virtual reality and the alienation of warfare are developed concisely and with striking vividness across these five songs, making Desert Strike a profoundly convincing synthesis of the personal and political.