Culture Weekly

Dazzling debut

February 24- March 2, 2021

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Dazzling debut

Musical maverick Ali Malik has launched his debut album after a 21-year-spell performing in the kingdom’s musical scene, breaking down the last eight years of his life into eight tracks.

The album, titled Painted Words, is a medley of numerous musical genres, and each of the songs has matured with Ali as he has grown on his journey as a musician.

“None of the songs were exclusively written for this album but rather at different phases in my life over the last eight years where I penned down my thoughts and emotions,” the 34-year old Bahraini musician told GulfWeekly.

“Ultimately, as I matured, the songs matured with me until I felt that they were finally ready to be released.”

Ali had originally planned to release the album last year, on February 20 (20.02.20), but the impending Covid-19 pandemic delayed it by a year and a day (21.02.21).

Although he started his illustrious journey as a musician in 1999 as a bassist in the band Dive, with his brother Taqi as well as cousins Basil and Hamad, Ali wanted his first solo album to be the perfect distillation of his growth as a person and performer – thus the two-decades-long wait!

“Each song is very different,” Ali explained.

“Ghost of Me is about self-exploration and defining oneself. Throughout the creation of this album, I was constantly seeking and finding myself. This song is very personal to me because in order to be who I am today, I’ve had to make some changes along the way.

“Callous is comprised of electronic beats, has an alternative structure to most songs and most importantly, is grounded in its lyrics.

“Fallen is rooted in spiritual guidance, turning to God despite our situation and finding restitution in him, regardless of our situation, whether it’s good or bad.

“Painted Words is the heart of the album. Incidentally, it’s also the only love song I’ve ever written. It’s a pop sounding song which takes flight towards the end. The melody sticks with you long after hearing it.”

Ali cites grunge rock as a significant musical inspiration, musing on bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Opeth, to create his own unique sound.

To help him record and produce these songs, as well as the four others – Quietus, Odd One, Summer of Dilemmas and Fly Away, Ali enlisted the help of Hamad Ebrahim, better known as 7MND on Instagram.

Other friends made during his long career also helped along the way. Salah Alawi Sharakhat from the Majaz band and Vian Ernest wrote and recorded the bass lines, singer-songwriter Alejandra Del Pino contributed vocals on Painted Words, Joel Dev was the album’s designated keyboardist, and Ahmed Baqeri created the guitar solo for Callous.

And finally, the album was mastered by Hani Taqi at Studio 77 in Adliya, and for the album artwork, Ishaq Madan took photos of a colour-spattered Ali, with Shanine Mohebat adding the final digital touches.

While he has launched the album on most streaming platforms, Ali also plans to have a launch gig once ‘life goes back to normal.’

In the meantime, he has many more ideas and unfinished songs to keep him busy. While he acknowledges that the pandemic has been unkind to entertainers, he has also been witness to the kingdom’s musical scene provide a platform to many creators, who kept their spirit alive with online shows and social media content over the last year.

“Back when I started, there were only a few local bands that you could count on a single hand,” he added.

“Over the years, many underground artists and bands came into the scene and have been active since then. Bahrain has a lot of potential when it comes to any sort of arts, but all we need is a stable platform to reach out to the international market.

“Many artists suffered last year, but nothing can stop you if you don’t want to be stopped. Many did online shows, either solo or collaborative. Social media helped us stay connected and keep everyone sane and united.

“My advice to new musicians is to keep doing what you love and be persistent about how you would want to achieve your goals. No matter how long it takes, take your time, embrace every single second of your progress and most importantly, have faith in God and your capabilities.”

Painted Words is now available on Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube Music and Deezer. For more details, follow @acemalik on Instagram.

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