Artist : Zaqqum
Release : Untitled
Link : https://archive.org/details/SGR00026
Label : Strange Guy Records
Release Date : Jan 2017
Reviewer: Wayne Rex
Whilst trailing through the submissions here at YIKIS, I came across this little beauty of a release. An untitled four track musical cauldron of an album, blending together noise, harsh noise, techno and some hardcore acting as the added salt for some flavour.
Released on Strange Guy Records this was labelled as conceptual Islamic hardcore. Just those three words alone, I knew I was going to absolutely dig this record. I don’t know much about Zaqqum as an artist, where they are from or whether they have released anything else and to be frank, the allusiveness of the artist makes this feel even more special.
The album kicks you BANG square in the nuts with the opening track ‘Harem Techno Skit’ with it’s blend of techno beats, Islamic speaking and singing samples and some good distorted noise to boot. It’s a track that takes me back to my youth, in a field somewhere in Dorset at some ungodly hour, spaced out of my tiny mind listening to some life affirming racket that both fuddles the mind, makes you dance, shout and feel euphoric.
Secondly we have ‘Salavat’ (potential clue as to where they are from, maybe?) which is fully to brimming with what seems like two conflicting styles of music but mixed together in complete, ear bleeding harmony. On one hand you have almost Euro/Deutch hardcore dance music background but, sounding like it’s being played full blast through some Goodman’s speakers and distorting to buggery. On the other you have some wonderfully hypnotic noise and samples that really make you thing your ears will bleed and your eyes will pop. There’s many noise artist out there and some of it is literally just someone recording a poorly tuned radio, with no nuances or variation but as this track proves, with some imagination and musicality you can create something quite extraordinary with noise.
The penultimate track on this release is ‘Salavat II” It kicks in with some rousing, slightly distorted Islamic chanting which continues throughout the track but soon gets mulched up into a distorted head fuck of noise and hardcore techno beats. Then just when you thought it was safe to turn it up you it gets pushed to another level of noise but still keeping a faint but upfront pulsating techno beat which seem to get slightly faster but that could well be just my blood pressure rising as this track kicks some mighty fine arse! Even at it’s most noise driven and crazy it still holds your listening ear and keeps it’s musicality. Which in my book is a mighty fine thing.
To finish this album we have ‘Zaqqum’ as self titled title. It sounds the most HI fidelity recording on the album and even included an atmospheric little synth riff swimming around the background like a panicked goldfish. It’s only a short track at 1.58 but you really need to listen to it a few times to try and work out what is going on and what you are hearing. It finishes at a dramatic stop, which is quite fitting. To my ears it has a rousing chorus of crowds chanting and a singular speaking voice also chanting something but more prominently. As well as the noise which has an almost march like quality. Short but very powerful track, indeed.