After the success and initial exposure of their previous album, the German-Yemeni duo Kabreet returns with its second album “Bidayat”. Photo by Shane Thomas McMillan.
Kabreet is a Yemini-German music project initiated in 2014 by Yemeni visual artist Ibi Ibrahim (left in photo) and German former journalist and hip hop DJ Hanno Stecher (right in photo). The duo’s music combines Arabic lyrics and singing with percussion based and synth-heavy music, transcending notions of „eastern“ and „western“ pop music and merging nostalgia with contemporary sound design.
After the success and initial exposure of their album “Momken Bokra” (engl. “Maybe Tomorrow”), the German-Yemeni duo Kabreet returns with its second album “Bidayat”. The album, whose title roughly translates to “starting over”, “new beginnings” or “fresh journeys”, references the duo’s exploration of a new musical approach beyond their initial indie one. With a strong sense of nostalgia and melancholy towards the Arab World, Ibi Ibrahim and Hanno Stecher now seek more interactions with middle eastern culture. Due to the support of a grant by the Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC), the duo temporarily moved to Beirut to finalize their song writing and work with producer and sound engineer Fadi Tabbal, who has worked with many staples of the Beiruti indie scene from Youmna Saba to Adonis and Postcards. A Beiruti spin to an already unique musical combo.
Listening to their new music, a new found longing and realization of Kabreet’s imaginative Arab geographies is immediately apparent. With songs such as “Yom Alahad” (“Sunday”) example, in which the duo is paying homage to Ibi’s home country Yemen by re-interpreting and re-contextualizing a classic folklore song.
It’s moments like these in which the duo shows their ability to pay homage to cultural icons and movements in the Arab world, while retraining a sense of relatable worldliness to their music. Hence, it is not surprising that their song “Enta” (“Oh You”), is a tribute to the late icon George Michael, with an upcoming video to be directed by Beirut-based film maker Mo Abdouni. Hearing “Enta”, Hanno’s rhythmic yet mellow use of synth sounds seamlessly blends with Ibi’s voice, as he sings about gender fluidity, questioning binaries and wistfully mocking the illicit. As the title of the album promises, the music takes you on multiple pulsing and lyrical journeys, whether it is the drum beat of “Shofni” (“See me”), or the warm and atmospheric beat of “Nile River”, which conjures up images of a Nile cruise, while retaining a sound that has a 60s enigma to it.
The album, like Kabreet, is many experiences, but not one. It is the melancholia of constant travel while yearning for an imagined homeland, the after dark music heard at an underground club in Berlin, the tragedy yet orientalist irony of intense romance and the obscure sense of queerness that is hard to box in words. It’s a celebration of a German-Yemeni mélange and of an urbane spin to music. Kabreet is caught in past imaginations, future explorations and a beautiful disdain to the present.