Leo Kristoffersson reviews the new EP by Kuwaiti artist Zahed Sultan.
When we think about it, we are pretty sure we have never heard music from Kuwait before in our lives. In fact, sadly, noteworthy music from that part of the world is fairly rare. We are therefore very excited to introduce Zahed Sultan to you.
What strikes you immediately upon listening to Reuse Me EP for the first time is the impressive manner in which Sultan succeeds in blending the musical tones of his homeland with his own brand of electronic pop. This is in evidence in the Arabic-language breakdown half-way through title track ‘Reuse Me’, a slice of musical brilliance in which Sultan invites the listener to ‘Reuse me / Abuse me’. Vocally, Sultan displays shades of the higher register typical of groups such as Air and Sigur Rós. This lends a laid-back vibe to the track.
The oriental flavour intensifies on Track 2, ‘Like This (Ha-Ka-Tha)’, which begins with an exclamation in Arabic before a souk-inspired rolling drum leads us into an organ-based synth. The track never loses its explicitly Middle Eastern bent yet Sultan’s talent for fusing that angle with killer instrumentation and production really shines on this particular number.
The remaining two tracks on the EP are remixes of ‘Reuse Me’ and ‘Like This (Ha-Ka-Tha)’, both of which are perfectly listenable. As is often the risk with remixes, they can register simply as extended versions of the original track. To a degree, that applies to the remixes on offer in the second half of this EP. However, where the Zahed’s Lost Love Mix of ‘Like This (Ha-Ka-Tha)’ differs from the original version is that it builds up to a thrilling ‘Born Slippy’-esque mid-90s dance breakdown towards the end. It possibly detracts momentarily from the Kuwaiti spice of the track but it’s impressive nonetheless. The Zahed’s Big Love Mix of the title track makes it somewhat edgier without changing it significantly and that in itself is an achievement.
Overall, Zahed Sultan is one of the most exciting emerging artists to have crossed our desk at So So Gay for some time. This is not down merely to his geographical origin. What hits you at full force when hearing Reuse Me EP for the first time is that this is a superbly-crafted extended play of ethno-infused electronica which deserves to be celebrated.