InFiné finally let loose Khonnar, the long-awaited debut album from Tunisian artist Deena Abdelwahed. Drawing influence from both North African and Middle Eastern electronic music scenes, Khonnar pushes the noise x techno envelope far into the future.
Having delivered high points in mixes by Paula Temple and M.E.S.H. after ranking high on our radar of ones to watch with her show-stealing Bachar Khalifé remix which landed on white-label back in 2016, Deena Abdelwahed has been seen playing live and DJing at CTM, Berghain’s Saüle and Boiler Room over the past few years despite having only had literally a handful of productions available commercially. So it kind of goes without saying how much (fully justified) hype is surrounding this album is right now...
From the sort of deconstructed percussive jams you would expect to hear Nkisi or Primitive Art dropping mid-set, Khonnar jumps between different levels with a tight selection of Arabic instrumentation, sharp-edged techno sound design and lyrics sung mostly in Tunisian Arabic. The pop sensibility comes through strongly with an arsenal of production tools so advanced you will have to update your phone or laptop every time you play the digital. After the bubblegum industrial edge that featured on her production of An Itch by Fever Ray, it comes as no surprise that such an addictive taste is felt strongly throughout.
Khonnar is a daring and consistently brilliant debut, one designed to work in the post-genre club landscape that it will undoubtedly soundtrack, however at its heart, art, politics and activism take centre stage.