Krystian Shek released a number of superb and still underrated albums on Namlook’s FAX imprint over the years; his first Carpe Sonum offering, 2014’s Sometimes Not, was a bracing return to form, and al-Qāhirah is the follow-up, and it’s a dandy, a longform slice of far-flung ethnotronica that speaks within dub’s mother tongue but jettisons the lockstep rhythmic underpinning. In so doing, Shek’s augured quite a brilliant thing: digidub that is all languid pools of sound, froth, reverberation, and echo, plunging the listener into a vast abyssal chamber whose sounds mimic the detritus found in long-abandoned sensory deprivation tanks. Yet the whole experience is becalming, welcoming, and thoroughly non-isolationist: throughout the fifteen-minute excursion of the title track, we are treated to a rainbow coalition of thrillingly sculpted shimmers lighting up a desert night sky like some man-made aurora borealis. Shek’s skill lies in his ability to showcase works of ‘ambience’ that are leagues removed from Eno’s hoary old definition—this is a music of flares and fanfare, bursting with light, drunk on the absinthe of nature.
Krystian Shek | al-Qāhirah | CD
1. Introducing the Ney Part I
2. My Name is Khaled (Ambient Mix)
3. Into the Hammam Part I
4. Introducing the Ney Part II
6. Into the Hammam Part II
8. The Poem of Antar