Published Jul 04, 2019Marking her solo debut as DJ Haram with concept EP Grace on Hyperdub, Philadelphia producer and Discwoman affiliate Zubeyda Muzeyyen bursts onto the scene, guns blazing. A press release positions the EP as an attempt to build a personal mythology — each track inspired by different types of jinn in Islam (Quranic stories of angels) and creatures born from Muzeyyen's own imagination — but what's more immediately apparent is a radical production hand mediating her Middle Eastern heritage through her experiences in the Philadelphia noise scene, and New Jersey clubs before that.
Darbuka drum rhythms provide the EP's fluttering heartbeat, but Muzeyyen isn't so precious as to root her production in a particular tradition. "No Idol" provides a resonant opening statement, as it partners its central rhythm with weaving synth strings, offbeat claps and a wandering flute melody that establishes a languid sense of pacing, only to blow it out and destabilize the beat with elephantine trumpets.
This artful use of brutalism defines Muzeyyen's production better than any genre descriptor as she casually erects slabs of volume, often with quick draw precision.
Perhaps the best example is the mid-EP "Body Count," where Jersey club bang stomps and drum crunches shoot up the open-air landscape like shotguns, a chiming, harp-like melody persisting through the melee as if charming the smoke off their barrels into an incensed haze while plumes of colour explode across the scene.
On "Gemini Rising," thundering kicks punctuate a Carpenter-like synth line like parade drums, and "Candle Light" sets a gloomy atmosphere on fire. The latter also gets a 700 Bliss treatment, Moor Mother renewing Muzeyyen's controlled burn with crackling blessings, while a revved-up remix of "No Idol" repurposes the opening track for dance floor booty bounce with an amusing use of a bedspring sample.
A hazy class in raw juxtaposition and club-tested disruption, Grace is an artful tapestry that threads together folkway traditions and late night club encounters. With it, Muzeyyen arrives with a promising debut and a fascinating origin story. (Hyperdub)