Dar Disku, comprised of Vish Mhatre and Mazen Almaskati, are a Bahraini via London record label and DJ duo, reviving gems from crate-digging voyages around the Middle East, bringing 70s Arab Disco to international dance floors. The name, Dar Disku, literally translates to “home of the disco,” and their upcoming rework of Ehab Tawfik’s Sahrany is set for release in early March this year. Mhatre tells Something Curated, “Dar Disku was born in early 2019 after Mazen and I returned back to the UK after a summer break in Bahrain.”
He continues, “We had been DJing various nights around London, mainly for friends and found ourselves closing the nights with a variety of Middle Eastern sounds which seemed to really push the energy in the room. We had always felt a slight disconnect with our cultures especially after moving to the UK to study and decided that we needed a platform that would help bridge the gap. We set up Dar Disku to connect artists, musicians, filmmakers and the wider creative Arabian diaspora.”
Expanding on what the duo have planned next, he tells SC, “We are currently working on DD004, our fourth release set to come out in the summer. Mazen has been busy working on this – it will be a Dar Disku’s reimagination of a Khaleeji classic – and I’m continually working on the live sets.”
“Our trips back to Bahrain are always really interesting because we never know what we will find. Most of the Arabian tapes and records are often found where you would least expect them – in the back of bootleg DVD shops or in Sunday markets and car boot sales. Sometimes finding a gem in places such as these is way more rewarding than in a record store,” Almaskati explains. Offering further insight into one of their record-hunting expeditions, Dar Disku brought Something Curated along on a recent trip home to Bahrain, hauling five of their best finds.
Cheb Mimoun – Abdel Kader “This tape is an absolute rarity and is by none other than Mimoun El Oujdi from Morocco! We were very lucky to get our hands on it. He was born in Oujda which is approximately fifteen kilometres from the Algerian border and this tape has an incredible layer of warmth and warp to it. When we first heard it we didn’t think anything of it until we heard a true gem … keep you ears and eyes open for something later in the summer,” Almaskati says.
Om Kolsoum “This record is by one of the most iconic North African superstars alive. Every Arabian household has one of her records and her voice is incredibly hypnotic and mesmerising. She’s known for being one of the pioneering women in modern Arabian music, complete with her trademark sunglasses and pearl necklace.”
Emmad Sayyah “Besides using traditional oriental instruments like the tabla (hand drum), rik (ambourine), kanoun and nay (flute) Emaad would effortlessly blend synthesizers into his sounds. This made for a killer LP and ‘Naar’ (translated to fire) on this LP is just that! This record was first heard by us in Bahrain but picked up finally in Paris from a good friend and fellow record digger Viktor Kiswell.”
Sammy Clark – L’bent El Helwa “This LP from Lebanon has one of the most killer drum/synth breaks we have heard on Ya Habayeb Hebbouna. It’s the perfect warm up track to get people on to the floor at a Dar Disku ‘Hafla’. The drum synth combo is incredibly hypnotic and we wish we could loop it forever. I even remember the time stamp. 2 minutes 11 (go listen!)”
Jacqueline “A Lebanese diva. This record has an absolutely unreal version of I Will Survive on it. Perfect to close the night with and just send everyone over the edge.”
All images courtesy Dar Disku