Under Review


Electronic Dream (Duke Productions)

by Betty Fikre Mariam

Electronic Dream

Electronic Dream is Abraham Orellana, aka araabMUZIK’s, first full-length album. Although released digitally back in June, the artist is still hyping the set on his current international tour, which lands him in Vancouver during the Olio Festival on September 22.

Considering my innate hunger for MC’s on beats, I was surprised that this mostly instrumental album (occasionally accompanied by warped and fleeting vocal samples) thrilled me just as if Harlem-based Dipset counterparts Cam’ron and Jim Jones were present. The second track, “Streetz Tonight”–possibly an ode to Lola’s, poly lovers and drag queens–starts off as a pseudo slow jam but seamlessly shifts to a dance track recalling millennium-era Kylie Minogue, but fiercer.

As much as Electronic Dream solidifies Orellana’s place as a pop music vanguard, it left me feeling confused. Like, why has he chosen to go in certain directions? The distorted samples of “Feelin So Hood” don’t deliver the “get crunk” music that fans have come to expect of araabMUZIK. I appreciate the finished product, but I don’t know how he got here. This is postmodern, post MPC sampler-centred pop music; post-everything, really. I ask you: ARE WE READY, THOUGH? Is this not a legitimate question?

Electronic Dream stands on its own. It is truly incomparable as it both exists within the mainstream culture through araabMUZIK’s extreme bravado, yet outside because of the album’s freeform aesthetic. For a split second I thought this shit was a one dimensional pop album, but before I could expand on that I noticed myself blaming Orellana for defying his roots and making a strategically deviant album. This isn’t a hip-hop inspired album, which in a way negates his past and certain expectations that fans may have had. This is straight up kitschy swagger. Though you appreciate the work, you just don’t know what to do with it. Where would I play this? My room? Definitely not in a club. I guess Electronic Dream worked, though, because I’m as much confused by it as I am wanting more.