Review: Are You Alien – Spicy Space Vol. 1

Spicy Space Vol.1 provides an insight into the burgeoning group of young producers in Tunis… who bring an intellectual approach to electronic music production.”

Spicy Space Vol.1 is the latest offering from Tunisian producer HearThuG’s ‘Are You Alien’ imprint. Composed of eight tracks, the compilation is both an introduction and showcase of the talent and meticulous production of some Tunisia’s rising artists. Founded in 2019, Are You Alien is amidst a second wave in Tunisia’s underground music scene, following the Arab Spring revolution of 2010-11.  

The EP opens with Khalil Lajmi’s 3LX. Lajmi’s contribution to this compilation comes just a few weeks after the release of his Local Services EP, his first release in eight years. The Tunisian born, Brooklyn based producer delivers a masterful interpretation of the classic Detroit sound on this track. Despite its minimalist composition 3LX has a rich depth of sound and is beautifully coherent.

Acid notes circle around the top of the track, conversing with a deep house bassline, all pushed forward by a syncopated and crisp rhythm section. Ambient synths envelope and compliment the melody as Lajmi lures you into a hypnotic state of nostalgia; perfect for late night driving or early morning afterparties.

Are You Alien co-owner and ‘Underground Source Records’ founder Emine joins Melkart on Do It for a glitchy and disjointed electro-funk cum future garage track. Ethereal high-end FX wrestle with a commanding yet infectious bass to create a cut that drives right until the end.

HearThuG’s Alien, All Too Alien is emblematic of the label’s vision in both sound and name, combining electro, breaks and trance for a euphoric rave slammer. The song opens with an evolving trance hook over a snappy drum pattern before the kick gets the bop underway.

At the half-way mark we’re hit with a four-four switch up and the removal of any bodily inhibition, as HearThuG demonstrates his understanding of how to move a dancefloor. Unpredictable, face-contorting and infectious, Alien, All Too Alien puts you at the mercy of a drug-induced martian puppeteer–and yet still you feel liberated.

Dawan, known as somewhat of an electronic purist, brings forth THANOS. Combining dark ambience with futuristic static and old-school sensibilities, THANOS offers a thumping soundtrack for your wormhole exploration. Tracks from Briki, Pan-J, Ines-Afs and Sc-y-La complete the EP, celebrating the darker side of the Tunis nightlife. 

Spicy Space Vol.1 provides an insight into the burgeoning group of young producers in Tunis, who, having studied the rise of Detroit Techno, Chicago House and UK Rave, bring an intellectual approach to electronic music production. Sharing the community spirit and raw excitement of their aforementioned forefathers, the future shines bright on the streets of Tunis in these uncertain times.

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