Oum Shatt makes luminous big city music. With its mix of distilled rock, Arab melodies and hypnotic rhythms it creates a truly cosmopolitan sound that couldn’t be further away from world music clichés. Founded in 2013, the loose collective around Jonas Poppe – with Chris Imler (Golden Showers, Die Türen, Jens Friebe, etc.), Hannes Lehmann (formerly of Mina, Contriva) and Jörg Wolschina (Der elegante Rest, etc.) – attracted attention with its celebrated single “Power to the Women of the Morning Shift” before releasing its first album last year. Oum Shatt’s self-titled debut album is an analogue, geometrical dance construct. In its arrangement modern and transparent, it nevertheless conjures an extensive history that in reality never existed.
There are references to Turkish psychedelic music of the 1970s and American surf rock, in addition to borrowings from New Wave, early electronic and film soundtracks. Jonas Poppe’s deep vocals, choruses and discreet samples in addition to the (at times modified) Phrygian scale on which most of the songs are based lend the album an occasionally mystical sound that often spirals outwards towards the end of the tracks, even as it seems to grow tighter. In his lyrics Jonas Poppe mixes love and politics, sex and crisis, massacres and flight, hope and hopeless dilemmas into an overall dark vision that is also marked by great concision and subtle humour. A true big city album. And by the way – Oum Shatt is much better live than they are canned.