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Youmna Saba's 'Wishah' is an Obscure Tapestry of Oud Soundscapes

The five-song composition feels like going in circles on the edge of an epiphany; a spiral in synthesised oud.

Layla Raik

Youmna Saba's 'Wishah' is an Obscure Tapestry of Oud Soundscapes

The strings of Lebanese artist Youmna Saba’s oud carry the essence of her newest album, ‘Wishah’.

Or so we thought. Upon further inspection, it turned out that it was not just her oud weaving a slightly eerie, mostly ethereal tapestry of sound; a digital extension of her oud, one that she studied extensively in her research project ‘Taïma’ took her soundscapes further. Essentially, this digital extension amplifies the divine subtleties of traditional oud, the resonances and fingerboard friction you can almost put your finger on but never seem to touch. It brings the oud closer to you.

Whether it is the electronic oud or the very spirit of the album (which is, after all, titled ‘Wishah’, which translates into ‘veil’ in Arabic), something about Saba’s latest release quivers with an emotion we have yet to pinpoint. Is it the shiver of fear? The hesitance before greatness, as we can assume from the first track of the album, ‘Akaleel’? Is it the heartfelt struggle of ‘Baoud’? Throughout the entire album, it feels as though we are hovering just a few inches above a great enigmatic epiphany, an endless pit with a Lovecraftian hollowness. The curious chase is almost addictive.

Throughout ‘Wishah’, the listener feels as though they are being told a story. In the odd way that childhood fables resonated with our best hidden worries, the album seems to answer questions we never asked, tell stories that reflect us although we’ve never lived them. The composition of Wishah poses an exploration not only of Youmna Saba’s ventures through the sonic universe, but also into her psyche and, by extension, to our own.

The shared experience of the album's reflexivity is at times eerily reminiscent of Carl Jung’s collective consciousness. At the very least, ‘Wishah’ got us so far into our own heads we’re psychoanalysing chords.


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