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Selections: Deena Abdelwahed

In this regular feature, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. This week, Deena Abdelwahed flags up 10 releases, spanning Arabic rap and jazz, Egyptian mahraganat, futuristic club sounds, and kuduro

Clubs around the world are shut, and opportunities to find new music out in the wild have been ripped from under our feet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While hearing new music played out by your favourite DJs will have to be put on hold due to these unprecedented circumstances, it’s never been easier, or more important, to support the artists and labels putting out EPs, albums and compilations in the midst of all the madness.

With tour cancellations and festival postponements leaving many members of the international electronic music community out of pocket, Bandcamp has become an even more vital platform for supporting the music you love, with 80% of all sales from the online music store going directly to artists and labels. In March, the platform announced it would be waiving its revenue share for all sales for one day, and on Friday 20th, took no cut from purchases made. In total, $4.3 million was spent on music over the course of 24 hours, all going straight to the creators. Throughout lockdown, Bandcamp continued to waive their fees on the first Friday of every month up to July, as well as on 19th June (Juneteenth), when the platform donated 100% of its profits to the NAACP Legal Defence Fund. Last month, it was announced that a fee-free "Bandcamp Friday" would take place on the first Friday of each month for the rest of 2020.

In this series, Selections, we’re inviting DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their Bandcamp collections. In lieu of opportunities to discover new records on the dancefloor, Selections – along with radio shows and mixes – will give you the chance to nab sounds from the crates of tastemakers, and support the artists behind them while you’re at it. Win-win, right? 

This week, Toulouse-based, Tunisian DJ and producer Deena Abdelwahed flags up ten releases, spanning Arabic rap and jazz, Egyptian mahraganat, futuristic club music and kuduro. With complex rhythms and genre manipulations tailored to the dancefloor and beyond, Abdelwahed’s Selections capture the adventurous spirit of both her DJ sets and productions, where traditional Arab styles merge with club sounds from around the world: from experimental techno and footwork to batida, dub and UK funky.  

Abdelwahed released her debut LP ‘Khonnar’ in 2018 via InFiné Music, and was one of our artists to watch in 2019. She followed that album in January this year with the 'Dhakar’ EP. More recently, her track 'Wein Al Malayeen' featured on the ‘Nisf Madeena’ compilation, curated by Tunisian music magazine Ma3azef, which raised funds for victims of the devastating Beirut explosion in August. 

In August, Abdelwahed featured on Houndsooth’s ‘Alterity’ compilation with the track ‘Abbrejiyeytar’. Pushing experimental club sounds from around the world to the fore – with contributions from the likes of Slikback, Hyph11E, Amazondotcom  – ‘Alterity’ illuminates a borderless, diverse and unifying vision for contemporary global dancefloors: an ethos found in every corner of Abdelwahed’s artistic output. 

Check out Deena Abdelwahed’s Selections below.

Lil Asaf
‘Lal Bazam’ [ANBA]

“I haven’t listened to rap music that much recently. I became very picky with that music, but I listen to this EP by Bashar Suleiman AKA Lil Asaf again and again. Even though I don’t fully understand his Jordanien dialect, the rhythms that he recorded his flows on are risky and appealing! It happens very rarely in Arabic rap. It’s no wonder producer Fausto Mercier got involved in this by mastering it.” 

Pugilist
‘Horizon’ [Nous'klaer Audio]

 “It happens often that I hear Pugilist tracks in my favorite DJs’ shows. Clean, meticulous and modern techno-ish dub tunes. I purchased this EP in particular because the tracks are more than seven minutes long and have this timeless feel. I mean for the whole duration of the track the beat keeps running: no ambient breaks, no experimentations. They just keep flowing without being repetitive or boring. I recommend listening to it when someone is coming late to your meeting.”

Zaliva-D
‘Immortality’ [Knekelhuis]

 “Every-time there’s a new release from Zaliva-D, I get excited to listen to it – like a new episode from my favorite series! I am not a rock music fan, but I love the punk rock feel in it! That’s how I feel anyways. Very special, but recognisable grooves. I like the acidity of their ‘acoustic’ instruments and voices.”

Jurango
‘Rift’ [[re]sources]

“I don’t know Jurango, but I trust [re]sources from Paris, France. This release fits perfectly in my DJ sets. I love the minimal dancehall rhythm, and the switch from UK Funky into Hard Drum and back. I like the little side calls of harmonics playing in the spectrum as well.”

Bruce
‘Steals’ [Hessle Audio]

 “I know this is not a recent release – it’s from 2016 – but I am a big fan of Bruce, and had to have all of his tracks! So I purchased this one. Talented man from his beginnings, I can’t believe how recognisable his arrangements are, and his sound tweaking! Bristol’s finest.”

Tarek Yamani
‘Peninsular’

“This is not club music!! It’s jazz, but with a khaleeji twist. Tarek Yamani and his friends made this amazing project to express Arabian Gulf music through jazz. Two types of music that I heard so much in my youth, now joined together! So, yeah, I had tears when I first listened to it, and bizarrely It didn’t make me feel nostalgic.”

Chevel
‘Elvine Unlocked’ [Enklav]

 “I met Dario at a festival in Italy, and that’s how I discovered his music. He handed me his album on SD Card and, since, I’ve been following his work! I am stupefied by the quality of the sound designs in his music. I’d name it as: romantic sober futuristic club music.”

Debit
‘SYSTEM’ [NAAFI]

 “This album is genius! It can be used to DJ in most underground clubs, or as a soundtrack to your daydream, or for musical research. It’s really my all-time favorite album.”

Nazar
‘+244’

 “Nazar is a visionary producer. Not just because of the way he personalises kuduro, but his kicks are kind of eaten up, or beaten, by the ‘swoosh’ that comes right after. So it makes every other sonic element PHAT. They make me lean on them to feel the groove. Super EP! and I didn’t expect it to feature Brodinski!”

YUNIS
‘The Blue Djinn Dance’

 “There was a time when [Egyptian electronic music genre] mahraganat was called electro chaabi. I believe it was due to a Hind Meddeb documentary that had gotten a lot of attention in western music magazines. Right after that, music from big players [in that scene] like Rozzma and 3Phaz gained their place on the Internet and in western clubs. Now there are even more ideas about how to re-appropriate this folkloric/popularist Cairo music, which usually accompanies rapping and singing. This time, YUNIS makes romantic phrases with only the lead synth. Simple ones, but yet progressive, not repetitive.”

Want more? Check out Selections features with More Time Records and Errol