Karmaġenn, a multi-artist musical collective led by Noah Fabri, is releasing its second album Urbanali on February 11 at Storeroom, Ta’ Xbiex.

Fabri describes the new album, which follows the band’s first self-titled album in 2019, as “a queer look at the continuity between the urban and rural environment”.

“The first Karmaġenn album told a story set in urban Malta,” explains Fabri. “This time, I’ve put together a series of observations and thoughts on what urban Malta means, where its edges are and how different spaces, power relations and exchanges come to create it.”

The musician says they wanted to try and dissolve the perception in their mind about any binary between the ‘urban’ and the ‘rural’, using the new album to unveil the more complex reality we are living in.

“This is especially evident in certain spaces that I write about,” Fabri continues.

“Lyrically, in the absence of stories, we instead have observations of everyday life in Ħamrun and Marsa, musings on supply chain capitalism and the gentrification of agriculture, sexy songs about deep cleaning, queer love, being in nature and more.”

Karmaġenn is synonymous with collaboration, with their work always attempting to bring together different voices and create a tapestry of different musical characters.

Urbanali was created through collaboration with a few familiar faces from the first album and some new ones.

Recurring in this second album are drummers Michael Vella Zarb, Caroline Spiteri and Mark Abela ‘iz-Zizza’, whose individual sounds Fabri says are instantly recognisable.

“Recording with Zizza is always a magical experience. This time, I was messing around on the piano while he was setting up his kit. Then, he simply sat down at the drums and fell into the groove of what I was playing with a beautiful beat. We quickly put together and recorded the basic track for the song in just a few takes,” he says.

Each collaboration in the album brings in a new perspective, says Fabri, with the sound veering a little into soul and RnB while keeping its singer-songwriter roots.

Observations of everyday life in Ħamrun and Marsa

A new addition to the sound of the new album is Carol Ciantar who Fabri says came over one rainy September day and recorded violins, giving a new flavour to a song and taking it in a completely different direction.

Another is saxophonist James Cummings, with whom Fabri says recording was one of the swiftest and most exhilarating sessions they’ve had.

“I’d been listening to a lot of songs with horn parts, so having James make what I was hearing in my head come alive in his own style was truly a blessing.

“Each recording session had a different character and it was really inspiring to invite people over or discover their spaces. I’ve certainly continued to learn to respect musical dedication and discipline,” continues Fabri.  

'Karmaġenn' while performing.'Karmaġenn' while performing.

Local artist Rachelle Deguara (REA) contributed lyrics and vocals on two tracks of the album.

“I’m really excited to share her words,” says Fabri. “She came over one evening in November and, after recording her parts, my flatmate and I surprised her with an impromptu dinner and an appearance from a dear friend.”

The album cover features work by artist Edera Muscat, whom Fabri wanted to work with for quite a while, saying the album artwork for Urbanali was the perfect opportunity.

“We took a walk around Ħamrun where we spoke about some of the things I’d been writing about, after which Edera created a beautiful composition out of images I’d sent her. Her naturalistic and highly skilled technique matched the kind of lyrics I was working on,” says the musician.

Fabri recently formed the band for the launch, with Vella Zarb, Cummings, Oliver Degabriele on bass and Samwel Mallia on guitar.

“Adapting the material to their groove has been lots of fun and I’m in awe of their skill and discipline in giving these songs the energy they’ll need live.”

Karmaġenn’s second album Urbanali will be launched on February 11 at Storeroom, Ta’ Xbiex, at 9pm. For more information, visit Karmaġenn’s Facebook page.

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