The binding between war, game, and music is manifold. On one hand, war and sound have the affinity that war, by means of its aural bombardment, has the capacity to effect the violent subjection of the human being by sound (Johnson & Cloonan, 2009); while sound, and particularly sound reproduction, affords individual voices the possibility of expanding their power: “through the radio voice it was possible to reconcile the mass with the individual, to speak to everyone as though speaking directly to each.” Music features as an accompaniment to war, such as “war songs,” anti-war protest songs, or martial music intended to directly attend military action. Indeed, music has been often employed in combat by very reason of sound’s ability to assert identity. Likewise, music has frequently functioned as accompaniment to virtual gaming endeavors, at the same time as sound effects signify vital information like diminishing health or the successful retrieval of it. Conversely, music is a game in which actors may interact with and negotiate the goals and rules that are presented throughout its course.
War and game also entertain a reciprocal relationship; games are used for military training purposes, while toy soldiers, and particularly video games, have facilitated both the passive observation of war and the active reenactment of it. This entanglement of war and game forms the conceptual fabric of Desert Strike, and supplements what is otherwise another quality accession to Kingdom’s Fade to Mind imprint, already home to releases by Nguzunguzu, Mike Q, and Massacooramaan. Specfically, Desert Strike refers to the video game Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, which was first released in 1992 for the Sega Mega Drive, and revolves around a conflict between a Middle Eastern dictator and the United States. According to Desert Strike’s press release, playing the game as a child was “an amalgamation of actual and virtual war game realities” for Al Qadiri, whose then-home Kuwait had a year previously seen the “apocalyptic vision of aerial bombings, air raid sirens, and skies filled with smoke from black oil fires.”
Fatima Al Qadiri’s preceding release, Genre Specific X-perience, comprised (re)productions of various metamorphoses of urban dance music. The album evidenced a conceptual sensibility alongside an acute aural sensitivity, making it unsurprising that she would find stimulus this time in her experiences of game and war, given their respective rapport with music and sound. Track names like “Ghost Raid,” “War Games,” and title track “Desert Strike” epitomize the album’s theme, while the influence manifests sonically via military sound effects, gun-cocks, and explosions, such as those featured heavily on “Oil Well.” These distinctly sinister connotations, however, varnish an otherwise murky, synthetic, beat-driven sound akin to Genre Specific X-perience. Closing track “Hydra,” for example, comprises echoing steel pans reminiscent of “Hip Hop Spa,” while familiar choral synth pads haunt throughout the remainder of the record.