Saint Abdullah & Eomac is a long distance, ongoing collaboration between New York based Iranian-Canadian brothers Mohammad and Mehdi Mehrabani (Saint Abdullah) and Ian McDonnell a.k.a. Eomac, based in Wicklow in Ireland. They tested the waters with their first album on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label last year, but ‘Chasing Stateless’ is their fullest expression so far.
The creative mindset behind the album starts with bravery and eschews escapism. Says Saint Abdullah’s Mohammad, “As a collective, we exist to test the revolutionary possibilities within sound and sonic storytelling. As a means to finding a vision of the future and for building cultural dialogue today. Our belief is that the expressiveness of this vision should be pushed to its utmost limits to reveal anew. I always felt that the intensity of the middle eastern soul needs to be revealed more potently. Ian and the Irish have it too. I suspect most historically oppressed cultures do.”
The music on ‘Chasing Stateless’ avoids easy middle eastern tropes — “I think what we’re proposing here is that you don’t need to water down our culture, you don’t need to take only the bits that fit your idea of who we are, what we are. You ought to take it in its entirety.”
Musically, the album approaches established genres and re-orientates them towards middle eastern rhythm and melody with an iron soul. Songs are rough and intense. Rusty polyrhythms, daf drums wrapped in a thick coating of distortion or punchy kicks with micro-edited samples of middle eastern life spiralling across them. Mournful melodies are squeezed out until the music teeters on the edge of rhythmic collapse. ‘Chasing Stateless’ is rough and energetic but also tender and reflective too. It’s a human sound, utilising technology but not about technology. Sample heavy with expressions of anger, sadness and hope present and deeply felt.
The album’s title speaks to a loss of collective societal imagination; of ‘chasing status’. As Moh says “This generation, man, we’re really good at putting up walls, despite all our openness. But where does this all lead to? What exactly are we chasing? This is where I especially love the name ‘Chasing Stateless,’ because if all this continues, we indeed will end up stateless, society-less, community-less, neighbor-less. Just a bunch of same-sies, living in an imaginary bubble, where we all look / think / say / CHASE the same things.”
01 Experts Defeating Experts
02 Pretense Of Neutrality
03 Of Christo
04 Frequently Fugitive
05 No Negotiations, No Conferences And No Dialogue
06 Sag Masab
07 Sunday Painter
08 Put By Nothing
09 Arrows Of Illusion
11 Lonely Is Our Non-Existent House Yard