By: Jack Stein
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“You are now listening to araabMUZIK.”
The warbled call to arms that opens and closes each of this enigmatic producer’s frenetic, art-damaged dance tracks sounds a bit like a radio transmission from some parallel universe to ours, a galaxy wherein Ibiza-ready beats and crooning female muses brush shoulders with the most emotionally resonant and instrumental hip-hop undercurrents that we’ve seen since J Dilla passed (araab actually made his name as a producer for the likes of rappers Cam’ron and Juelz Santana, as a part of Dipset, so the hip-hop bent of his best work is no surpise.) However, this genre-challenging music simply has no proper precedent.
It’s a total headfuck of an experience, with your body wanting to move wildly to the spastic rhythms while your mind and heart take residence on another different, more drugged-out & reflective plane entirely. One can picture araab sulking backstage at some rave, less enthralled with the soulless climaxes/Transformers noises of ubiquitous “bro-step” nemeses such as Skrillex and Afrojack, and more focused on pinpointing the emotional response that the best dance music since the 90’s has attempted to elicit. And damn, does he succeed wildly.
Like fellow head-turning & boundary-testing producer Clams Casino, araab has made big ripples in the indie stratosphere over the past year, and like his New Jersey counterpart, there are no signs of araab slowing down anytime soon. The Electronic Dream EP graced many a Year-End list for 2011 (including this writer’s), and the gorgeous, tempo-shifting & endlessly cathartic “Streetz Tonight” (above) serves as its crowning achievement. Also worth checking out is the deluxe version of the EP that recently dropped, particularly “I Remember”, a re-work of a deadmau5/Kaskade track that replaces the original’s relative calmness with distortion and eerie ambient drift at all the right places, imbuing it with a brand new life entirely.
Without a doubt, this will be an incredible way to end one of your Coachella evenings, and would sound pretty life-affirming booming from a sultry dance tent at the sun sets over the Coachella Valley. Without a doubt, araabMUZIK is a Coachella Must-See, and with a little luck and some more incredible records, he could help move the electronic-leaning community in a refreshing, more artistically viable direction this year.