The album ceaselessly moves forward, a quality excellent for dancing but not as much for variety.
In the event of an actual apocalypse scenario, most people typically think of how they will adapt in terms of survival; rarely does doomsday prep factor in time for preserving hobbies, passions or general enjoyment. Yet survival involves more than just acquiring nourishment and shelter. To survive also requires determination and hope, both qualities empowered through a person’s own desires and dreams. Take away the inspiration to enjoy life and you leave a person without a will to live.
In preparation for any impending disaster, Lebanese and Swiss production duo Praed put together Doomsday Survival Kit, which strives to entrance listeners through its repetitive nature. The pair described the album’s tones as “distant calls for help emerging from a world that is falling apart and slipping away.” It certainly feels like a transmission from its length, which stretches past 45 minutes in fewer than five songs. Though urgent in terms of tempo, Doomsday presents songs in a relaxed, mechanical pattern that conveys more warmth than one might expect at the world’s end.
The duo consists of Raed Yassin and Paed Conca, who each contribute a grab bag of instruments ranging from their vocals to woodwinds like the clarinet. Their multifaceted musical talents translate over to their music, which blends the cultural traditions and sounds of chaabi music with the steady pulse of electronica or the groove of funk.
The songs really show their mettle in their midsections, where Yassin and Conca take a few sonic risks. After guiding you along a pleasantly repetitive mélange of beats and bloops, an oboe solo comes in to shift your perception of the song. The solo stretches out and pulls you deeper into the soundscape, which then introduces dissonant chords, sputtering electronic elements and ludicrous vocal riffs.The title track offers an excellent introduction to this style. Featuring analogue synths mixed up with woodwinds, it creates a dazzling dance effect. Alto clarinets and saxophones join Conca’s own clarinet, adding to the album’s busy but never crowded soundscapes. Like much of Doomsday, the track builds upon a repeated beat and chords over the course of many minutes.
True to its name, “El Khawaga”, which translates to “foreigner” or “Westerner”, provides the album’s only “short” track – a modest six minutes. It offers a quick reprieve from the onslaught of “Embassy of Embarrassment” and “The Spy Who Spoke Too Much”. “Embassy”, with its funky synth line glitching in and out at just the right moments, is moody but still upbeat. Meanwhile, “The Spy” arrives with no time to waste, the quickest of any track to jump into safety mode. True to its name, the song delivers the most vocals of any of Doomsday’s tracks, though it’s largely heard in drawn-out yet brief phrases and shouts. The ending with the echoed, descending vocals sounds lovely while also presenting the possibilities of innovation here. Both Yassin and Conca construct music entirely their own, but they spend extended periods of time hammering those sounds out to the point that they become familiar. You’ve certainly never heard something like Doomsday until you’ve heard the same percussion line for an entire 11-minute song.
Expansive and entrancing, Doomsday Survival Kit ceaselessly moves forward, a quality excellent for dancing but not as much for variety.