Review: Raqs Al Maghreb by Celt Islam
The Secret Archives crew have known of Celt Islam‘s music for quite a while and recently we’ve been on the same bill as him at a couple of events. We’ve always liked his music; in many ways it is doing the same thing we’re doing, bringing disparate genres such as dub, dubstep, Arabian, Middle-Eastern and Asian musical influences together. His music, of course, has a strong Sufi Islamic vibe permeating it, in contrast to (or is it?) our Christian/Christafarian inclinations. Perhaps it’s in the realm of the Sufi philisophies that we find common ground.
There was a BBC documentary about Celt Islam‘s performance at Glastonbury Festival that made us laugh out loud – it was SO reminiscent of gigs we’ve done with technical disasters happening just as it was time to go on stage, musician stress, poor onstage sound monitoring but with an appreciative audience who didn’t seem to mind it being a little rough around the edges.
Manchester based Muhammad Abdullah Hamzah aka Celt Islam has just released a five track EP called Raqs Al Maghreb ( رقص المغرب).
The title track, which also features Dawoud Kringle, is almost eight minutes of tabla-driven head-nodding dub of the kind Mr Islam excels in, the kind of music that makes festivals and darkened clubs worth going to. The second offering, Tayy Al Ard, also features some tablas up front but dips deeper into dub’s echoing murky depths. Arabian percussion rattles around the melody instruments, but the groove never lets up. Again, I’d defy anyone to resist tapping a foot or nodding their head. Darqawi kicks off with a sequenced synth, taking us into ethnotrance territory, still demanding dancefloor obedience. Run Away, featuring Danman, brings vocals into the mix. It’s a chilled digital-dub workout and brings us to the final tune, Vision, which brings the dancefloor dub riddim back up front for a satisfying conclusion.
The EP is available for £4 from Bandcamp HERE.
Hopefully, we’ll get to share a stage with the man sometime again soon and, who knows? – we might even work on a joint recording project (we’ve talked about it). In the meantime, cough up some cash and get yourself a fine collection of tunes.