El Khat are an exciting prospect and are redefining Arabic music and Yemeni culture, with Western harmonies and compositions on instruments made out of junk. The second single by El Khat – and Yemeni inventor, carpenter and music producer Eyal El Wahab – is Balagh Al Achbaab from the debut album Saadia Jefferson on Batov Records.
Recorded in Eyal’s backstreet studio in Tel Aviv, the deconstructed Yemeni folk songs utilise an orchestra of instruments old and new, many repurposed from rubbish and sounding similar to traditional Arabic and North African lutes and percussion. This is new sonic territory for the culture.
DIY handmade instruments include the self-named ‘Kearat’, a large steel bowl with a piece of wood, some nails and screws and six strings sounding like a banjo-bass, as well as a fuel plastic container and olive oil containers. There’s a ‘Pancello’ as well, which is played with a bow akin to a cello made out of a saucepan, a broken shelf and rope.
El Khat – taking their name from the plant chewed across the Arab world, used to speed up the mind and body – are earning diverse critical acclaim after first single Ya Raiyat, released last month.
The debut album Saadia Jefferson by El Khat set for release on November 22nd on Batov Records.