Review Summary: A journey through an imagined China, old-school video game landscapes, or wherever Asiatisch happens to take you.Asiatisch
is described by Al Qadiri as a simulated road trip through an imagined China - the China that has been filtered through Hollywood blockbusters, comic book exaggeration, and cartoon bombast. Knowing Al Qadiri’s ideas that influenced her production illustrates the motives behind the album’s creation, but does little to bolster the message delivered by Asiatisch
, as the concept itself is more vividly captured and illustrated by its powerful imagery. From the obvious digitized, chinese vocals and tracks punctuated by pounding gongs to the slightly less obvious eastern-tinged flute melodies, this “imagined China” concept seeps through the cracks at every available opportunity. If crafted under less-talented hands, an album based entirely on this singular theme could easily come across as one-note and heavy-handed, but Al Qadiri’s sound pallette is already so eclectically rich and diverse that the pounding gongs and eastern-flavored steel drums and flutes are just a few more ingredients to add to the massively dynamic mix.
, and Al Qadiri’s work in general, gains most of its charm through the unique and vivid worlds her productions inhabit or even conjure up entirely on their own. Her prowess in fashioning these vibrant imaginary worlds is matched in strength only by her ability to craft them using unpredictable individual elements with meticulous attention to detail, giving the tracks a captivating deformity and a foreign nature that arouses curiosity and intrigue at an unmatched level.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Asiatisch
’s sound is its multi-dimensional layering, providing colors and moods, even if only fleetingly, that illuminate subtle corners of the alien atmospheres. Due to the album’s heavy grime influence, much of the aesthetic has a largely digitized feeling, giving everything a sleek, futuristic sheen, but also evoking the warm nostalgia of old-school video game soundtracks. “Hainan Island” is stuck with one foot in a Super Mario World
lava cave and the other in a Final Fantasy
boss fight, while “Wudang” and “Forbidden City”’s icy choral flutterings could have been plucked straight out of a Secret of Mana
ice world. Every track here plays out like a vibrant illustration coming to life, and after the high-speed ride through “Shanghai Freeway”’s neon-lit, frantic steel-drum chaos, the album seems to come to a screeching conclusion much too soon. Asiatisch
may be a brief listen, but its impact is long-lasting, and the iridescence of its atmospheres and environments makes it an absolute must-listen.