It is not easy to articulate the psychological shocks and impacts felt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Global Music Award-winning Bahraini composer Mohamed Murbati seeks to confront his personal experiences of it in a reflective new project Current Situation.
The mini album, a graduation project for the artist’s Digital Media degree at the University of Bahrain, is a big-picture reflection that seeks to capture and move forward from the moment. Creating a jagged, piercing soundscape layered over excerpts from news headlines of tragedies to which we have become wearily familiar, the opening piece ‘Happening Now’ is an unsettling reminder of the pandemic’s early-day tremors, with a video showing in-motion chalkboard depictions of the seismographic picture.
With visuals by Ali Hussain Merza, playfully drawn stick-figures and stick-houses coupled with an upbeat sound inject an optimism in the second piece ‘Childhood’ as Murtabi seems to gain his footing, before the final piece ‘Hope’ overcomes the scattered aftershocks from the opening with a calming sense of stability.Upon releasing the project, Murtabi announced that “[it] was born because of my blind faith that music is capable of expressing a status while demonstrating the personal psychological reactions to this pandemic.”
The project certainly hits the upper echelons of our own Richter scales, and perhaps a key takeaway from Murbati’s reflective project is that in order to move forward, there is often the need to step backwards.