If you do any digging into AraabMuzik’s genesis you’ll find most of it fits into the slight vain of a self-styled net-age everyman. Just take a look at the album sleeve of AraabMuzik’s unceremonious debut Electronic Dream and you’ll probably find everything you need to know about the producer. He prefers posture to postulation, letting his MPC speak more volumes for him than any sort of conceptual pretense or production credit recognition. Though he does have that by way of Dipset – a gig he landed via email. The way he describes it, the name, Araab, sort of just fell into place and he countered with “why not,” tacking Muzik to the end of it.
Anonymity plays an almost overt role in Electronic Dream. AraabMuzik’s move into wider electronic music from a hip-hop base is a familiar tale in 2011, but there’s a singular quality to the record that makes the trend immediately irrelevant. Electronic Dream seems like a nocturnal summer dance mix that happens to wonder onto the radio as you pass through its FM range down an empty highway. It’s fleeting and egoless and palpable with a sense of arresting immediacy that’ll somehow be gone forever by sunrise. All that’s to say AraabMuzik buries himself deep within the music behind a wash of squelching lo-fi synthesizers and whispered femm vocals, sliding from screwed down hip-hop to 90s house to dubstep all with a gusting layer of warm Mediterranean air.
“Electronic Dream” opens things up without much preamble, jumping right into the pool of woozy moonlit synth lines and a textural female vocal before settling onto a firecracker snare and some airless kicks. Down through the entire thirty-five minute run time AraabMuzik sticks to a bookended approach, framing an expanse of wafting synthesizers, chimes, vocal fragments, and offset rhythms between flourishes of 4/4 driven dance pop. The vocals mostly stick to the 90s sentiment of love as synonym for “dance,” (fireflies are mentioned on “Lost In A Maze”) and by the mid-point of the record, Electronic Dream has mostly done its job at turning eleven songs into one unconsciously ethereal dance mix.
As a producer AraabMuzik mostly works within perimeters set by the momentum of his arrangements. “Golden Touch” drives out of “Streetz Tonight” in a breathless 4/4 before dropping itself into a jerking punched up kick-driven beat at half the tempo. Araab lets the drum and swirling melodic synths ground things while percussive flourishes and barely-there vocal exhalations waver in and out of notice.
Electronic Dream‘s arrangement as an album is reminiscent of early lo-fi UK garage mixes, letting woozy obfuscated rave synths be pushed by their respective rhythmic stylings. Araab’s tends to harken toward modern club-leaning hip-hop-infused electronic music – heavily compressed kick and stuttering double-time hi-hat – instead of locked 2-step, but as dubstep (as apposed to post-dubstep) has become more defined by its bottomless bass wonk and less by its rhythms, it’s easy to see that hip-hop has been playing a significant role in that scene for a while now. Yet the most readily available reference point I can think of in 2011 is Air France, a duo that remains starkly tied to tropical beach-ready dance music, which is perhaps where the comparison falls apart. There’s definitely a tangible Balearic similarity as well as an exploration of wonder and innocence that’s assertive enough to edge on bombast.
AraabMuzik becomes an oddity in 2011, a somehow retro-futurist, creating an album that feels forward thinking and vital and singular while recontextualizing much of the dance music from the past twenty or so years into a ceaseless nocturnal amalgam. It also happens to be beautiful; a beauty that feels earned rather than contrived or enforced. Electronic Dream concludes like it was only meant to be heard once and then remembered in scraps like its namesake, but, thankfully, its starts over as readily as it ends.