Algerian producer El Mahdy Jr.'s first release for Discrepant is a continuous collage of heavy bass, swirling rhythms, and found recordings, with an emphasis on scattered, static-filled radio transmissions. A globetrotting French-Arabic translator by profession, El Mahdy Jr. has spent time in Turkey, Burkina Faso, and Croatia, and incorporates the music and culture of those nations into the towering bass and spacious echo of his productions. While previous El Mahdy Jr. releases consisted of dubstep and grime edits of raï tunes, Ghost Tapes is much more sprawling, morphing through various voices and instruments, and letting radio announcements and street chatter bleed through the intoxicating rhythms. The record's first side is an intriguing warmup, but the second side is where it takes off, beginning with the sounds of rewinding cassette tape and then launching into a mournful female vocal sample and pattering U.K. garage beats. A furious rainstorm breaks, pushing the music toward sounding more and more like a Middle Eastern equivalent of Burial, and a solemn voice delivers a speech about how "every empire, neither sooner or later, but in its time, is gone with the wind." Following the storm, stuttering beats are combined with chopped-up vocals and stringed instruments, and more radio chatter lurks underneath. It's hard not to compare this album to Muslimgauze, but at its most downtempo and dubby, it more closely resembles some of the more mystical artists on the WordSound label, such as Slotek or Ebn E Sync. As haunting as its title suggests, Ghost Tapes is an astonishing, otherworldly expedition through sound.
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