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Abdu Ali
Fiyah!!! Robert Barry , April 26th, 2019 08:35

Fiyah!! the debut album by Abdu Ali, is a delirious sci-fi cityscape, a record of epic proportions and quantum strangeness

The year is 2057 and Baltimore is a strange place. Imagine the city as an organic being, a living creature, polymorphous and polyamorous. Cellulose tendrils and fleshy tentacles stretch from district to district. Neon ghosts flutter in the smog. Tremont Plaza and the Transamerica Building lie in blackened ruins, re-appropriated as nightclubs, pulsing to alien, new rhythms. Strange human-animal-cyborg hybrids stalk the alleyways and avenues. A chemical smell pervades the air.

This is the landscape conjured up by Abdu Ali’s debut album, Fiyah!!!. Thrilling, but slightly terrifying. It will keep you on your toes, eyes wide open. Alive.

I think I first came across the manic, hyped-up, cartoonish sounds of bmore club music some time back in the mid-00s, watching The Wire in red-eyed binges and skulking in record shops, flicking through whatever stacks were filed in the vicinity of baile funk, dubstep, dancehall, footwork, reggaeton. There was an infectious delirium to the way Baltimore artists would smash up Think breaks with samples from kids’ TV at propulsive speeds, all the while yelling gruffly over the top, grunted exhortations to dance, fuck, put your hands in the air.

Abdu Ali grew up on those sounds, sneaking into clubs underage. And, as the founder of underground party Kahlon and curatorial platform drumBOOTY, they have been an increasingly visible and visceral presence on the Maryland circuit for some years now, a crucial voice in radicalising the scene and raising its consciousness. Now, Fiyah!!!, their debut full-length, takes that sound and that fury and drives it in weird and wonderful new directions.

The beats here may slap like club beats slap, but the sounds that twist and turn over them are unlike anything else, mixing the energy of punk, the squelch of p-funk, the strut and heat of ballroom house, the future shock of experimental electronica, and the wild, freeform harmolodics of free jazz – not to mention the unique personality of Abdu Ali themselves, a kind of deep space activist mystic sexual libertine straight out of the fiction of Samuel Delany or Ursula LeGuin – all together in one deeply weird and utterly compelling, unpackageable package. This is a record of epic proportions, bursting with sounds of quantum strangeness, running head first along multiple paths at once, smashing through every barrier in its way.