Shaneera is the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word shanee’a, literally meaning "outrageous, nefarious, hideous, major and foul.” In one iteration of the word, as queer slang used in Kuwait and some Arab countries, a positive and desirable light is shed on these attributes. Shaneera refers to a gender-defying persona, of being an evil queen. You know a Shaneera when you behold one.
Over five energetic club tracks, Al Qadiri explores this dark-sided character with friends Bobo Secret (the leading vocalist on the record), Lama3an, Chaltham, and Naygow, in their debut recorded appearance.
The lyrics are suggestive, imploring, shady and loving, some original and some re-recorded material from Grindr chats, online drag and femme comedy skits. The language is a mixture of Kuwaiti and Egyptian Arabic, and one Iraqi proverb, Sonically, the record combines Khaleeji (Arab Gulf), Western drum kits and Arabesque melodies.
On the cover, Al Qadiri appears as Shaneera, her evil extreme femme alter ego, the design inspired by stale pop diva record cover imagery from the Arab world. Conceptually, the EP follows Al Qadiri’s long term exploration of gender identity and performance in the Gulf. Her natural look, at odds with the conventional presentation and performance of femininity in the region, is transformed on the cover into a maximum femme look inspired by a mid 2000s Kuwaiti trend of extreme makeup.
What would pass at a cursory glance as femme drag was actually the norm at a specific time in Kuwaiti women’s fashion. ‘Shaneera’ the record lands somewhere in an undisclosed setting and is a love letter to evil and benevolent queens around the world.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1. Shaneera 2. Is2aleeha 3. Alkahaf
Following some ear-catching manoeuvres across releases like last year's self-released 'Only' and 'Lagata', which gained her early fans like Bjork and Dev Hynes (who she supported in the USA), 'Tommy' marks Klein's deepest plunge yet into the “deep, dark ocean” of her musical imagination on her Hyperdub debut.
On 'Tommy' her vocals play with Fifties-esque melodies before switching to familiar tones akin to Brandy and Rodney Jerkins, her live voice and live piano playing filtered through hyper-glitchy and looped production with a loose, internal logic, cutting from angular atonality to pockets of skewered harmony.
'Tommy' also steps things up in conceptual terms. Its eight tracks are broken down into acts that are rooted in themes of vulnerability, sisterhood and death, threading the chaotic sonics with modern operatic undertones and a Shakespearean sense of tragedy.
There's a lot of bluster about originality in contemporary UK music and what rises from the noise here is a creative voice who, by her very nature, plays with the construct of what pop is. This is Klein's world ... it's on us to get with it.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1. Prologue ft Atiena, Jacob Samuel, ThisisDA, Eric Sings, Pure Water 2. Act One with Embaci + Jacob Samuel 3. Cry Theme A4. Tommy
“Mnestic Pressure” is Lee Gamble’s first album since 2014 and his first with Hyperdub, a reset that sees a noticeable change in his sound and the concepts that feed into his music. Lee says ‘From “Diversions 1994-1996” (2012) through to “Koch” (2014) - my music felt like I was dealing with signals from elsewhere - signals from the unconscious, sub-aqua, hallucinated, dreamt. “Mnestic Pressure” feels like their decoded offspring, a terra interpretation.’
The title “Mnestic Pressure” comes from Lee’s thinking about how our contemporary memory is pressured, individually, but also collectively. ‘We live in these strobing, visual times, like a constant subliminal advertisement but, also over the last few years the world seems to have become more and more dreamlike, alien, and parodic itself and there was this part of me that wanted to drag my music back from this Shangri-La, but fully drenched and infected by its ghosts.’
“Mnestic Pressure” as a whole is a simulation of this experience; a flow of targeted information, through contrasting and quickly changing terrain, from one track to another you’re dragged into a new space. The pressure to move is intrinsic to the flow of the album, one thing morphologically transforms into another, zooming in and out from wide angle to detail, reshaping into new forms at a speed Lee’s music hasn’t before.
The music on “Mnestic Pressure” has a hardness, with a structure and melody that was sublimated in Lee’s previous LPs. It builds on his more recent experiments with more functional dancefloor forms.
Here his hypermodern production and crunchy, dissembled beats feel like they could be malfunctioning holograms projected onto the hallucinated memories of his early work.
Tracklisting: Side A: 1. Inta Centre 2. Istian 3. East Sedducke 4. 23 Bay Flips 5. Swerva 6. Quadripoints 7. You Hedonic
Side B: 1. UE8 2. Locked In 3. Ignition Lockoff 4. A tergo Real 5. Ghost 6. Déjà Mode