Pitchfork (Website) - "BRUTE is in some ways closer to a piece of Brechtian theater than a traditional album."
Clash (magazine) - "[T]here can be no doubt that with `Brute', Al Qadiri has invoked her own personal brand of protest in a world in which discussion over that right has become ever more charged."
The cover of Fatima Al Qadiri's second Hyperdub album, designed by Babak Radboy, features Joerg Lohse's photograph of a Josh Kline sculpture -- a life-size, Teletubby-faced figure in riot gear. The sculpture was part of Kline's Freedom exhibit, which used a version of Al Qadiri's "Star Spangled," a baleful synthetic choral track that twisted the U.S. national anthem, as its soundtrack. Like the Francis Scott Key composition, Brute has a Baltimore connection, in addition to one with Ferguson and the U.S. at large. While Al Qadiri was recovering from a knee injury in Kuwait, she was locked into social media coverage of the anti-police brutality protests that were occurring in the States after the homicides of numerous black citizens, including Ferguson's Michael Brown and Baltimore's Freddie Gray. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as by Occupy activists, and flashing back to her own experiences with demonstrations and militarized authority, she went about recording Brute. It sparingly incorporates sounds of coverage from escalated protest scenes -- sirens, piercing sound cannons, protesters fleeing for safety. "Blows," appropriately one of the more physical tracks, concludes with the voice of MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell: "...crushing them on the pavement and arresting them...for not doing anything." The album plays out like a score commissioned by a documentarian who requested that Al Qadiri refer to her past work while keeping it austere and menacing throughout. In essence, Brute is dark ambient grime, with Al Qadiri's stamping drums and probing bass frequencies heard less frequently than her synthesized choirs and horns. At its most vivid, it evokes the feeling of anticipating a shove or a bean bag round. The producer's composites of real and simulated elements make for surreal listening, heard most intensely on the closing "Power," where a segment from an interview with retired police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey is flanked by synthesized shattering-glass effects. A kind of document and grave form of protest music at once, this album should be bundled with any updated editions of Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear, written by Hyperdub founder Steve Goodman (aka Kode9), first published in 2012. ~ Andy Kellman