By Max Martin
Wetrobots <3 Bosaina has released an excellent new EP: Bang and Blow. Anyone who has followed the relatively new band’s progress over the last year and a half will notice that something has changed. The quality is still high, but the message is different.
Bosaina, Ismail Hosny, and Hussein El-Sherbini went from making nostalgic, party-jam, breathless dance music with lines like “everybody wants to stop at twenty-one and we wanna have a lot of fun” to making tense, sometimes disturbing electro songs with a pervading sense of anxiety.
The EP’s title track is pure, exasperating tension, and one that truly features Bosaina’s singing voice and her ear for catchy melodies that were the focus of the band’s earlier work. “Blow a fuse, bang on doors, what’s the use, they want more,” sings Bosaina, “I’m all gone, shut the lights.” The song eventually evolves into a dystopian bridge featuring heavily manipulated samples of a human (or several) screaming. It is the best track that Wetrobots <3 Bosaina have produced so far, and successfully combines the strengths of all three members.
A new song not featured on Bang and Blow, Atari Drama, declares, “I was just a toy to you, you showed me off to all of your friends, you even let them touch me.” The line is intoned in a lifeless robotic voice, suggesting trauma. Whatever bad vibes drove the change, they have brought a sense of focus to the group. Bosaina is the intense, 25-year-old frontwoman of the group. “There wasn’t an epiphany or anything” she told The Daily News Egypt. “For our new songs, the environment took its toll on the music.”
The band is not without a sense of humour – Wetrobots <3 Bosaina’s music both celebrates and lashes out at the local DJ/electronic music/clubbing scene, at youth culture, and at Egypt in general. “Bang and Blow is about Cairo,” Bosaina explained, “about really fake people, people who are fashionably fake. But it’s funny – it’s tongue in cheek.”
A good part of the EP’s three tracks is devoted to being sarcastic about people who very much resemble the members of the group. “Everybody’s a designer, everybody’s a blogger, everybody’s a producer, give me a break,” sings Bosaina, who teaches at a fashion school and admits to being a photographer. “We’re definitely part of that group,” says El-Sherbini.
But beyond the self-aware satire lies a real sense of tension, which is reflected in El-Sherbini and Hosny’s minimal, restless, yet dance-floor-ready productions. The bass synth is squelching, the drums are loud and resonate like kicks to the stomach, and Bosaina’s manipulated, stream-of-consciousness observations float detached above the music in a space between talking and singing. Wetrobots <3 Bosaina’s music is often no more than a few parts working together seamlessly to create a sense of unrelenting unease.
Bosaina attributes some of the tension in the band’s music to a sense that time is slipping away. “Ever since I was young I have been very obsessed with the concept of youth. I turn 30 in five years. In my head I have five more years to be part of a creative culture.” She adds, however, that “my personal experiences growing up here were not very pleasant. I know I was, and I am still, very frustrated.”
In the future, the band will continue to push the boundaries of their work and to play live as much as possible. “People writing about us have pigeonholed us as an electroclash band,” said Bosaina, “We’re not going to stop being electronic, but we’re constantly evolving.” On hopes for the future, she said that “touring, playing music, meeting lots of interesting people, and growing” are priorities. “You’re seeing the same people all the time. You’re not learning anything. Travel, do our music, relate to people, create with them, that is the ideal.”