Album Review: Fatima Al Qadiri - Medieval Femme

Fatima Al Qadiri creates mystical compositions inspired by classical poems of Arab women.
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Fatima Al Qadiri

Fatima Al Qadiri

Fatima Al Qadiri has released her new album Medieval Femme. The LP is a suite of baroque, electronic and dreamy compositions inspired by the classical poems of Arab women. It is designed to simulate a daydream through the metaphor of an Islamic garden.

This album plays on the mysticism from those stories, drawing the listener into untold worlds. The record expands on some of the ideas that she explored in her 2019 soundtrack for French Senegalese director Mati Diop’s Cannes 2019 Grand Prix winning film Atlantics, but does take a different tone.

Her hazy, distant voice plays an important role, often repeating the same line on songs like “Vanity” to create a trance-like daze for the listener. “Sheba” is built around this spooky organ that feels like being lost in the garden of a very old religious building.

The album uses soft-synth lutes, organs and pipes to transport the listener back to an Islamic garden as melodies gently swirl around you. The project feels effortless in how it was created and put together, flowing seamlessly like a well-written poem.

Cast in Al Qadiri’s discography, this is something new for her to explore. Her 2016 LP Brutte was a unique take on police brutality, often through the lens of the Occupy Wall Street protests, using samples from news coverage and melding them into gentle, yet evocative dance music.

Now the Kuwaiti musician creates something from the folklore of stories often not told in the West. She captures the melancholy found in the poetry of Arab women from the medieval period to make you feel their emotion. Even if the words are distorted and heavily reverbed, you can feel the yearning in them, from a distance, as if they are whispering from another room. It all eventually ends with the beautiful and flowing “Zandaq," which is the only song on the album written in an Arabic scale.

Fatima Al Qadiri creates a mystical world for the listener to become entranced in. Capturing the magic and emotion of classical poems of Arab women, she brings to life art that is emotional and heartfelt. Get your copy of Medieval Femme here via Hyperdub.

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