It was quite a treat to receive news of Dust to Digital's latest album Qat, Coffee & Qambus: Raw 45's from Yemen. Inspired by There is seemingly no better narrative ploy put to use than the drug addled bohemian in canonizing a any artistic group or style. It's use spans many mediums (visual arts, musical, literary...) & defies cultural barriers. I suppose people need to interact with the dirt and grime to really feel human, or at least fantasy they are there. Or maybe it's a good tool to make visible a certain bridge and common space as another.
Regardless of any promotional tactics or aides used the music speaks for itself. "Mushtaq" performed by Bolbol Al-Hejaz and Soni Ahmad is an uptempo and altogether gorgeous track. To me they bring to mind the work of Hamza El Din someone who thanks to his success on the world scale, no doubt partially thanks to being lauded by the like of The Greatful Dead or Bob Dylan back in the day, has brought him in the a larger audience, including being one of my first forays into arabic music at large.
(Photo by Chris Menist)
There are strong similarities and resembles present in "Mushtaq", after all Yemen has had close contact with the East North African region El Din was a native of. Each are composed of lyrical narratives that unfold accompanied by oud & at times percussion. Whereas someone such El Din was able to have access to modern recording studios these tracks are laid bare bound to their surroundings & contextual situation. Bringing us back to the original narrative associating the music with the Qat & Coffee scene that the presented musicians have become one with.