REVIEW: ‘Pieces’ — Abri and the Dreamfleet’s downbeat return

The group consist of vocalist Hamdan Al-Abri and musicia -producers Adriano K and Megadon Betamax. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 September 2020

REVIEW: ‘Pieces’ — Abri and the Dreamfleet’s downbeat return

DUBAI: Wheeled out to sing for, Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock whenever they pass through Dubai, but far more often found howling pop covers on the UAE’s after-hours scene, Hamdan Al-Abri has long been regarded among the GCC’s most underutilized musical talents. 

But the Emirati vocalist broke a long original-recording hiatus in 2017 with Abri and the Dreamfleet, a lightning-bolt collab that pit the singer’s soulful delivery against smart, mellow productions by Dubai-based musician-producers Adriano K and Megadon Betamax. After landing fully formed with “We Fly,” the trio’s trail went a little cold, likely because Betamax relocated to Saudi Arabia.

This new constructed-via-broadband EP, appropriately titled “Pieces,” apparently picks up where we left them: At the end of the party, dialing a more subdued — borderline melancholic — brand of chilled, downtempo, electro-soul grooves. 

“Pieces” is their new constructed-via-broadband EP. (Supplied)

“Life is all so short/A second lost/Our lives are like a fading picture,” Abri sings on the opening title track over crestfallen synth chords, plaintive passive guitar and a relentless disco beat somewhere between the dancefloor and the kitchen drawer. “I would rather stay dead”, runs “Vindicate” — a portrait of a reluctant lover — over a lumbering processed bass-line. “I feel like I’m going nowhere,” echoes over mournful minor keys on “Midnight Drive”.

Only “Anotion” breaks with the numbing four-on-the-floor to embrace a more nuanced global beat – and a whiff of optimism – on the EP’s closest thing to a singalong. Uniformly mid-tempo, with minimal harmonic or dynamic variation, the tunes otherwise nod along discontently, neither upbeat enough for the club, nor layered enough to reward a deeper listen.

If only the Dreamfleet had swooped in sooner. It’s impossible not to make comparisons with Abri’s other 2020 release, the far more arresting “Mallam” — a trippy IDM EP in collaboration with Elie Afif, a jazz double-bassist who has apparently reinvented himself as a thrilling beatmaker in the thrall of Flying Lotus’ LA beat scene. The amount of sonic space covered in that record’s 21 minutes is a revelation next to the equal runtime of “Pieces,” which suffers in contrast. 

Amina Muaddi to launch handbag collection

Updated 17 September 2020

Amina Muaddi to launch handbag collection

DUBAI: Jordanian-Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi revealed on Thursday that she is expanding her business with a new handbag collection that will launch in October.

The Paris-based designer — beloved by celebrities — told her 573,000 Instagram followers that her new line will be called Aminis.

She shared a series of images of the new bags being manufactured. According to her shots, her rectangular purses will be available in a range of different colors — including purple, black and silver – and sizes. The handles are adorned will be adorned with crystals, some plain, others with a variety of colors.

Muaddi already has a well-established brand — famous for its signature flared heels — that has garnered a loyal following of famous fans, including Dua Lipa, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin Bieber.

Her most famous collaboration is the limited-edition footwear capsule collection with multi-hyphenate superstar Rihanna’s Fenty, which dropped in July.

Rihanna tapped Muaddi to design a collection of shoes for her luxury maison back in December. The news wasn’t all that surprising, considering that the singer-turned-designer has been a longtime fan of Muaddi. 

The designer’s eye-catching shoes also previously featured in Rihanna's Savage x Fenty show at New York Fashion Week.