If you have never seen Araabmuzik perform, I highly recommend you pause your perusal of this concert review and check out one of the myriad YouTube videos of him performing. Pay attention closely. His playing will astound you.
He’s nominally a DJ, but not really—he’s more like the most impressive drummer you’ll ever see. His face remains stoic, his arms moving at a lightning pace as he plays the kit of his choice, which just so happens to be a MPC MIDI sampler. The idea of watching a dude playing drums with his fingers seems boring, pedestrian even. But as Araabmuzik proved last night at the East River Ampitheater (presented for free by the Red Bull Music Academy), if someone is good enough at something, they transcend terminology and simply demand your attention.
The evolution of the Rhode Island producer is an interesting one. He cut his teeth doing hip-hop production—and still continues to make bank doing so—but with his album Electronic Dream, he found a new audience within the electronic music community. It is a role he’s embraced wholeheartedly, playing festivals and numerous DJ sets as a solo performer.
The thing about the actual songs that Araabmuzik plays live is that’s they’re often secondary. Once he gets his fingers pounding on the MPC, whatever he’s playing is transformed into almost abstract composition. It’s a sheer sonic assault, having as much in common of the crushing totality of harsh noise as it does electronic music. That’s not a dig on Araab—indeed, he uses the music he plays as a canvas of sorts, a jumping off point if you will. But the difference between Araabmuzik and pure cacophony is he’s inserting a machine-gun magazine’s worth of drum hits over beats that already knock.
Araabmuzik’s set was a rough mix of his solo material—culling from both from his productions such as the Dipset comeback single “Salute,” as well as songs from Electronic Dream—also throwing in a generous dose of bass-heavy, rolling dubstep from the likes of Skrillex.
It is Araab’s newfound fascination with such music that has become cause for alarm for some within in the indie community, especially since Electronic Dream was made up largely of delicately cheesy Euro-House.
However, if there is a more apt foil for Araab’s MPC maximalist tendencies than the already-pummeling bass drops of American-style dubstep, it hasn’t been discovered yet. The packed crowd, made up of young people of all stripes, ate it up. And at a show such as this, that’s all that matters.