Bilmey, the rolling news channels of Britain are terrifying right now. You switch on and are confronted with news of young British Muslim lads taking up arms and journeying to Syria/ Iraq to become combatants in a jihadist theocracy. Switch over to the other news channel and hyperbolic anchormen inform us that there is a covert Trojan plot by British Muslims to take over state schools in order to propagate fascist curriculums which aim to destroy UK values. These are scary times.
UK values don’t come more quintessential than shoegaze music, and you can’t get a more Islamic name than Yousif Al-Karaghouli. Put them together and you get Kult Country, a Manchester band that is fronted by an enigmatic soul who sings in muffled deliveries while everything around him is drenched in gorgeous reverb sounds. The music is all about feelings and nebulousness. It’s thick with sonic atmosphere and arcane meanderings. Even if the listener can’t decipher Al-Karaghouli’s vocals they still get exactly where he’s coming from. This is the soundtrack of the confused and misunderstood.
Kult Country has only been going a few years and is already one of Manchester’s most exciting new bands. Manchester, an industrial city that has the most violent parts in the country, is changing. Educated and affluent people are relocating there because of its growing portfolio of media enterprises and business opportunities. Locals are already complaining that the Manchester music scene is becoming too gentrified and metropolitan elite. How that affects the range and originality of this rock city remains to be seen, but the downtrodden nature of the place has birthed some of the most startlingly arresting music ever heard. If that is compromised then bands as fascinating as Kult Country may be in shorter supply than currently, and it’s already a pretty dire out there.