Egyptian vocalist, trumpeter and poet Abdullah Miniawy has recently released his latest critically acclaimed conceptual album The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor in collaboration with German trio Carl Gari. Previously working together on their collaborative debut Darraje in 2017, Miniawy and Carl Gari's work took a more broody, otherworldly serene direction in their latest work' in comparison to their techno influenced debut.
Based on a series of Abdullah’s writings, The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor is a 6-track EP where each track is centered around a separate poem, yet stemming from a central, encompassing poem. In the track 'B'aj' Miniawy is the protagonist, falling from a building's 8th floor, recounting the different stages as he free falls, floor by floor, depicting surreal politically reflective images of both his innermost thoughts and Egyptian society - an equally introspective and extrospective undertaking.
"During the act of falling from the 8th floor
Everyone is standing behind you
Their hands trying to reach you to call you valuable.
But you can't find any value among them"
Abdullah commandingly recites against tense drone soundscapes and hauntingly stretched out field recordings, vividly painting suspended, abstract scenes as he descends where at times he's met with wires, a piece of concrete, a bird's cage and a skipping rope that turns into a hangman's noose. Rather than the expected climatic release of the final impact, Abdullah suddenly interjects the recital, exploding into a spine-chilling wail. "High diving from the first floor, taking you again to floor 9" Miniawy howls away in glorious fashion, exiting 'Ba'j', imprinting this menacing sense of a never-ending loop of downward spiral. The lo-fi, steadily slow productions of Carl Gari on The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor boast an idle, loafing air reminiscent to early Massive Attack. This can be seen in the ominous opening track 'Zawaj'. Propelled by minimal beats and textured instrumentation, the track features Abdullah's gripping Sufi vocals soaring over unhurried beats, repeatedly singing the macabre lines "Sacrifice her Grandmother! Lift the curtain and peel her!" On 'A'laj', Abdullah's trumpet makes a ghostly appearance in between the verses, echoing away in harrowing, abysmal depth as reverberated guitar notes reflect back and forth in the soundscapes. Re-appearing in the track 'Zyaj', Miniawy's trumpet sings away as the track's instrumentation strips down at the end, implying an evocative, lonesome air to the gliding trumpet notes.
If the breast is too heavy,
give it to the chosen one "
Abdullah sings in Zyaj', ceremoniously calling for the Greek earth goddess and primordial deity that is Gaia to give back rightfully to those who deserve. Miniawy's poetry on this EP is often quite abstract and open ended, tethered yet untethered to reality, multi-dimensional in its interpretations, layering the work with an enigmatic sense of wonder.
"I beg you, man who ploughs,
If I left after being a witness to the accident
please don't erase its traces"
A seemingly defeatist, grim Miniawy sings on perhaps the most contemplative, captivating track on this record. Dubbed 'Haj', the track is a slow burner, set ablaze with sinister, desolate drones and textures that saturate the space, setting the stage for Abdullah's arrestingly cerebral vocal inflections.
There is often a blissful catharsis, a release that arrives after diving deep to explore the secluded, treacherously dark nooks within - and that is exactly what the The Act of Falling from the 8th Floor exudes. Although somber and poignant in tone throughout, that aforementioned cathartic deliverance does manage to break through the dark existentialism that is prevalent. Musically illustrated all over the record in the most spiritually exhilarating of forms, the central notion of the free fall offers an entrancing one-way trip to Abdullah Miniawy's world.