“Electronic prism-pusher Zuli explores themes of identity, both hyperlocal and global, in ‘Terminal’; his singular and definitive artistic statement for Lee Gamble’s UIQ. Expanding his sound to encompass melancholic ambient composition and grimy rap from prominent MC, Abyusif, as well as newcomers Abanoub, Mado $am and R-Rhyme, and mysterious Mecca-based vocalist MSYLMA, ‘Terminal’ finds Zuli drawing upon a multiplicity of personal experiences in a concerted effort to upend preconceptions of what an Egyptian artist “should” sound like. In Zuli’s own words: “In a world that feels like it’s regressing into tribalism, many of us who don’t fit into any one specific group identity feel sidelined at best. When people talk to me, whether it be the press or peers in the scene I operate in, I am often approached with a preconceived notion of pretty much everything from my influences to and tastes to my politics and lifestyle, solely based on my nationality. It is a caricature that has proven very marketable, one that makes for a more interesting read/conversation/booking, apparently, than a multi-faceted (hence unique) human personality just like each and every one of us.” Across the 14 tracks of ‘Terminal’, he smartly unpackages and dissolves those lazy pre- or misconceptions by forming his own, syncretic musical language. Meshing the rhythmic grammar of hip hop and club styles with the Arabic dialects of his MCs and vocalist and the free syntax of ambient music, he dissolves and undermines outmoded ideas of exotification, presenting an image of...
Lee Gamble’s UIQ label introduces the hypnotic, rugged and cerebral solo debut by Cairo multi-instrumentalist, producer and sound artist, Ahmed El Ghazoly a.k.a. ZULI, with the Bionic Ahmed EP. Ghazoly is a co-founder of VENT, a music-space-turned-club-night in Cairo with a sister night and record label based in London, and he has also been a prominent figure in Egypt’s underground music scene for almost a decade now, ZULI has conceived a unique sound straddling slow techno and jungle with squawking, alien electronics and smeared microtonal melody in a familiar spirit to his label boss’ psychoacoustic dancefloor projections. At the top of the EP he offers a knuckle-cracking Robotic Handshake in 4D synching neck-snap sub knocks with shimmering gamelan tones and gremlin voices like a lost Dabrye bomb, before seducing us with the creamed microtonal timbre of Compactpact and resetting the levels to Beneath-style bleep & bass pressure with 131001G. However, the biggest highlight appears on the B-side opener Robotic Jabs in 4D, where desiccated 2-step jungle patterns spark at the core of a lush, fluid synth swell like some nerve-pinched Nubian Mindz reverie, whereas the decelerated thump of Ahmed? trades in STL-style dub-house triplets, and Dr. Beckett convulses like a Gantz riddim undergoing an ayahuasca ceremony. In all, a striking debut from a highly individual new voice on the scene - highly recommended if you’re into Lee Gamble, Coil, Urban Tribe or Beneath.