Faysal Bibi, better known as OkyDoky, has been a mainstay of Beirut’s dynamic electronic music community since 2008, earning himself a reputation for his vigorous live performances and unusual sound. It isn't every night you get to hear electronic beats interspersed with vocoder-vocals and schizophrenic bursts of 'Amen' breaks and heavy metal. Teaming up with fellow local electronic-powerhouse Radio KVM, the duo held audiences captive for hours as they played off one another with nonstop sets, usually at Hamra pub Dany's, before OkyDoky booked it to New York in 2011.

Being abroad, he went under the radar musically for some time, with occasional uploads of single tracks and small bundles every now and then, only to resurface with a boom. Earlier this month, OkyDoky finally released his debut solo album Boommbox.

(Photo via Bandcamp)

Boombox sees OkyDoky swapping his frantic and frenzied electronic style for a more unlikely (of him that is) old school electro-hip hop sound. According to the man himself, the album’s main focus was drums and synths, constructing drum kits from vinyl samples, hunting for vintage drum machine sounds, and utilizing analog synths and analog synth samples to achieve a sound that was between the refined and rudimentary.

The album boasts a healthy mix of hip hop and electronica, and it’s nice to hear a natural element integrated with the electronic components, which is something that OkyDoky actively sought, as he described this long-missing aspect on his Bandcamp page: “some degree of rawness, imperfection, improv i.e. some human core, inherently imperfect and unpredictable even within the cloak of a digital audio workstation (DAW) and a rhythmic beat.”

While the drum-creation process was firmly rooted in old school methods, OkyDoky was more lenient with the synths. A lot of analog synths, or samples of them, were utilized alongside contemporary sounds. This creates another interesting juxtaposition: one of primitive electronic sounds and complex modern ones, which facilitated the creation of super-pumped up beats and ambient eerie ones too.

One of my favorite features is this “faux-scratching” sound heard, for instance, in the end of the opening track, Pocket Knife. It’s clearly not conventional scratching, but more like a custom setup to emulate it, where, excuse the technical jargon, the sound is being selectively gated (simulating a crossfader’s action) while its pitch is rapidly altered (simulating the back and forth motion of a vinyl record). In a genre where everyone uses the same software and plug-ins, it’s these kinds of little tricks that make certain electronic musicians stand out above the rest.

(Photo via Facebook)

Just when you think the album’s over, you're treated to six remixes. First up, there’s French artist The DVJ M Doussare’s jazzy breakcore interpretation of Afrit, followed by a more subtle and textured version of Lake Vostok by longtime OkyDoky partner in crime, Radio KVM.

Queen of the Locusts was remixed not once, but twice. Osloob, of the Palestinian hip hop crew Katibe 5, takes it on an experimental hip hop trip, while Liliane Chlela’s ethereal and cinematic rendition of it, though impressive, sort of kills the momentum; I would have closed the album with it.

Jad Atoui went on a real tangent with his take on No Emperor, as I was expecting his usual moody atmospheric sound, only to be surprised by a light and upbeat hip hoppier version of the track. Finally, another French contributor, Reznyck, wraps it all up with his brutal version of Pocket Knife.

Boombox was released under a Creative Commons license, so be sure to stream, download, and share it on Bandcamp or Soundcloud or anywhere else, and follow OkyDoky on Facebook.

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