Kamil Manqus كَامِل مَنْقوص from Palestinian artist Muqata’a remains one of the essential albums of 2021 – so it’s a beautiful moment to revisit its tense microsampled timbres in combination with visual surfaces from Theresa Baumgartner.
In these reflective times, we’re living through a new resurgent renaissance of looped textures, whether it’s Ramallah’s Muqata’a or our friend KMRU from Nairobi. Those artists are also finding their way to Berlin, for the essential support infrastructure it provides, while still remaining connected to their original local scenes.
The opening “Quboor Mamila” is the soundtrack to this video. It’s a fuzzy analog tapestry of stretched digital images Theresa says she pulled from satellite imagery of sun-drenched deserts, interwoven from different times of day.
There’s a perfect analog between his sampling technique and hers:
Incorporating classical Arabic music, old records reclaimed from his grandparents’ collections and field recordings of Israeli military checkpoints into his compositions, Muqata’a fashions dense and detailed audio portraits of cultural and societal disruption, a project which is invoked by his moniker, which can be translated as “disruption,” “interference,” or “boycott.” It was the intricacy of Muqata’a’s method that initially drew Baumgartner to his music.
The results can look sublime, still on edge, from recalling glitchy analog feedback to splashes of microscopic color or quasi-granular tendrils like electronic textiles.
Check FACT for more on that process; Theresa is doing a month-long residency there:
And there’s plenty more to see of Theresa’s work in composing live light (with Jlin) and more abstract textures and movement:
It’s also wonderful to follow the thread of Muqata’s work, and see how effortlessly he’s moved from hip-hop sampling to more pure textural creations and back all over again. He’s a fantastically dynamic live performer, too – I was lucky to finally get to see him onstage this fall after having been an online fanboy / Bandcamp fan for a while, and it’s great to get that whole spectrum. So you can see how he just dials the OP-1 and SP-404 harder into finer textures and gets these eerie granular qualities, all with that same finely-honed sensibility. And there is a political urgency here, too – in those almost painfully squashed textures, you hear the cry of a culture that has been “muted” as he puts it.
There were already some gigs happening in the last months, plus he just played the Exist Festival which made a temporary move over to Jordan, so while I’m not the sort of journalist who does “talents to watch” features – yeah, we’ll be watching for your next sets!
Some “ancient history” in that this is 2015, but I really enjoy this set and it provides some of that context to his evolving technique:
Then the more-watched Boiler Room session, which I think is how Theresa met him (while on camera):
And a must-see set from Amsterdam’s legendary Paradiso in 2019 (ah, the “beforetimes”):
But yeah, let me once again endorse the album. I see those little thumbnails below it, so I know who bought it and who didn’t. (I’m like a demented Santa Claus of the Bandcamp underground, see?) Go go get it!
Now I better get back to the CDM 2021 year-in-review, having spoiled one pick already.