The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Ancient Rhythms, Global Rhythms: Pete Wareham's Favourite Records
Adam Quarshie , April 1st, 2020 09:28

Via his ensemble Melt Yourself Down, saxophonist Pete Wareham reimagines the rhythms and melodies of Nubia. Adam Quarshie caught up with him to discuss some of his influences, from the music of Egypt and Sudan to the music of East London.


Ali Hussan Kuban – 'Habibi'
I think I was on MySpace, that's how long ago it was, and I was looking for Omar Souleyman. I ended up finding Ali Hussan Kuban by mistake. I found this track called 'Habibi', and it blew my mind. The first bit of drums when it comes in, it's almost like drum & bass, but it's not but it's not folkloric African either, it feels like rock & roll. It's so direct, and it's speaking our language, but it's from a completely different culture, and I just love that. And when you hear his voice… His voice is killer - it sounds like Joe Strummer. His voice just feels so punk, especially later on when they start dubbing it and putting all this delay on it.

It was that one song that made me start Melt Yourself Down. I was playing it at a party and people were going mad. By that point I'd been obsessed with this song for months, I was listening to it over and over again. Everyone I played it to was like: "Oh my god, what the fuck is that?!". I thought: I want to make a cover of this song, I want to start a band. Because I didn't have a band at the time. Acoustic Ladyland was over. I said: I think I'm going to form a band just to do that one song. The next day when I was coming down from my birthday party evening, I just thought, let's do that - brilliant idea. I phoned everybody and said: "let's do it!". I organised a rehearsal and then the next day I came to and thought: 'oh shit, I think a formed a band yesterday'. And then I thought, 'well OK, let's just start writing'. I went upstairs and wrote 'Fix My Life', and then it all came together really quickly.