- LP - Red Vinyl
Today, migration seems to be encoded into everyday habits. As so many of our minds and bodies aggressively globalise in unprecedented ways, previously fixed “genres” and identities of any kind are constantly being dismantled, made redundant, and born anew. It’s from this space of flux that American composer and vocalist Sheherazaad derives song. Her mini-album, Qasr, was engendered during a time of family estrangement, grief over a lost elder, and the racial polarisation of her country as she knew it. Translating to “castle” or “fortress” in Urdu, Qasr is indeed a monument — like encapsulation of the real strains of displacement, the push and pull of diaspora, and the depravity of erasure and forgotten roots. These experiences and their inherent violence, hysteria, and romance imbue her sonic deep-dive into the world of the so-called in-between. Native to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sheher studied Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu in an attempt to re-access lost heritage, where she quickly advanced and wrote test lyrics. These would result in her self-released 2020 underground project Khwaabistan, and garner the attention of Arooj Aftab, who offered to produce her next record. Working long-distance from separate coasts during the pandemic, the pair got to work on Qasr. The collaboration would culminate in the heart of Brooklyn at the Glass Wall studio, during late-night, feverish recording sessions and utilising a groundbreaking cast of international musicianship, including Basma Edrees (Egypt), Gilbert Mansour (Lebanon), and Firas Zreik (Palestine); mastered by Heba Kadry (Björk, Ryuichi Sakamoto). And so, on Qasr, Sheherazaad gives us a beguiling new soundscape, not yet of this world. But she also stokes the flame of fantasies inherent to the nomadic experience, which may finally be brought to the fore. Overall, the bewitching album finds an artist building her own fortress, while enticing us to forge our own castles, musical queendoms, and impossible dreamlands.
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