February 28, 2024


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Umm Al-Shat – “Unsubscribe” (review) – ByteFM

Umm Al-Shat – “Unsubscribe” (review) – ByteFM

Umm Al-Shat – “Unsubscribe” (Wanda Way Recordings)


Umm al-Shat's debut album of the same name quickly became a cult favorite after its release in 2016. Eight years have passed since then, and the realization that Umm al-Shat was merely a temporary project for musicians who were actually very busy has matured.

And now Umm Al-Shat already has a new album called “Opt Out”. The circle of actors has been overturned: Hannes Lehmann and Jörg Wolshina are no longer there. What remains is Chris Imler (drums), Richard Murphy (guitar), and of course lead singer and guitarist Jonas Pope. New is Rémi Letournelle on bass and synthesizer.

life in the meantime

“Off To St. Pete” opens the album with tense post-punk bass lines. But the following song, “Kid Went Awry,” whittles down the album's initial drive within a few seconds. From then on, the music becomes mostly casual, sometimes sleepy: a numbing indolence, which in “Play” first leads into nonchalant phrases like “You know things don’t make sense, but it doesn’t mean anything” before finally going into air Direct. You must drive – “So don't cry, girls, boys, play!”
The album title “Opt Out” refers to the album's central lyrical idea: actively rejecting traditional expectations and standards, life in the middle zones brings contentment. “I've found something between signing and quitting – the bliss of irrelevance,” goes the song “Off To St. Pete.” A sense of the words that seem illogical rather than complex to Rembetiko's unreliable narrator Jonas Pope slowly begins to develop.

“How can you trust a man like me?”

Chris Imler on drums proves once again that he is a master of expression. The “unsubscribe” option is carefully designed, but never overburdened. This is music for fans of authenticity who want an album recorded 100% live. Speaking of authenticity: But what has gained momentum over the past eight years is the debate about the cultural appropriation of musical material from non-Western culture by representatives of the so-called Global North. The rather simplistic members of Umm al-Shat would certainly have been aware of this sometimes uncomplicated debate (pure assumption on the part of the author, which deliberately included no research) regarding the sound of Umm al-Shat, understood as oriental. In the absence of precise terminology. (After all, there is now even a book “The Ethics of Appropriation” published by cultural theorist Jens Balzer). One way to counter any accusations was to abandon the somewhat carnivalesque elements of the previous book (“Gold to the Straw”). But “withdrawal” goes the other way: more creative appropriation, but with the right awareness. As a DJ, Bob has delved into so many years that he can define himself as an expert. Thus Umm Al-Shat treat themselves to world-class musical figures from Turkish music as well as surf and rock-and-roll standards, usually with the utmost charm (“in the world and out”).

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So the song must have a French touch: “Bright Madame Lisolet just remembers the first line of this song” – a gentle, mysterious blues that lyrically and musically references “House of the Rising Sun” until Bob elegantly emerges from the song. Dangerous embrace of Madame Lisole. The wide-ranging musical portfolio of newcomer Remy Letournel (Fenster, Slow Steve) can leave a nice mark on the dreamy closing track “Sure Cure.” Umm Al-Shatt marked her already extensive holdings on “unsubscribe”. in the meantime.

Publication date: January 26, 2024
Label: Wanda Y. Records

Image with text: Support Association

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