After her critically acclaimed 2019 release Khonnar, Tunisian leftfield experimentalist Deena Abdelwahed drops subversive four-track EP Dhakar, which translates to male or masculine in Arabic. Through shifting between vernacular sounds, Abdelwahed traverses contorting sampled rhythms as well as live instrumentation in Dhakar. Intermingled with relentless rhythms and scattered beats, Deena reshapes traditional voices into hard-hitting dance numbers.With opener 'Lila fe Tounes', the Tunisian artist interpolates the jazz classic 'A Night in Tunisia', to inform a menacing tonality, one where she sings in an eerie male register over shuffling, rumbling structures. In 'Insaniyti', a harrowing intro carried by the North African instrument Mezwed charges the song as Deena delivers a faint vocal line. Picking apart regional sonic influences to morph them in her own, she infuses 'Insaniyti' with live violins, rhythms and samples that take Gulf sailor songs as inspiration. Unwavering in its grooves, Dhakar proceeds with 'Ah'na Hakkeka' which sees a hypnotic, repeating bass line that pays ode to a form of Tunisian Gnawa called 'Stambeli' through its deconstructed grooves.
In its final blow, 'Zardet Sidi Bagra' is a hurrying dance track that features tense percussive elements. Through scathing synths and ghostly choir samples that echo in and out the track, Deena merges all these worlds of sounds in singular momentum. Shape-shifting and rebellious in both its references and direction, Dhakar marks Deena Abdelwahed as one of the most insurgent sounds to come out of the region.