Wake Island is the vehicle through which Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal conjure complimentary visions of 90s techno pop and New York’s “No Wave” movement of the late 70 and early 80s. Originally hailing from Beirut, the producer duo now split their time between Montreal and New York City, creating electronic sounds that attempt to reconcile their Arab roots with their North American lives.
Manasseh and Maghzal met in Montreal in the early 00s while pursuing a biology Ph.D. and a finance degree respectively. They soon found themselves enmeshed in the local music scene, churning out various music projects and delving ever deeper in their shared musical language. Over the years, they’ve released a handful of records and EPs, with their 2016 sophomore album Out marking a transformative period of time for the band, and for Manasseh in particular. Out heralded the realization of his queer identity and the band’s evolution toward a more electronic aesthetic.
This rhythmic refinement finds a fitting stage within the songs of their forthcoming EP Daya3, a collection of tracks which functions as both a political call-to-arms and a turbulent journey through their collective emotional histories, awash in various catharses and memories that have radically shaped their personal and musical trajectory. It’s a snapshot of two people who’ve overcome so much to stand where they are and who aren’t prepared to back away from any obstacle set in their path.
Their latest single, “Daya3”, the title track from their upcoming EP, is a brash and vital piece of electronic pop — the kind that digs into your head, your heart, and eventually settles into the muscles which coerce you out onto the dancefloor. Synths shake and rumble through your body, while the capricious percussion makes subtle adjustments to your heartbeat. But there is meaning here, a complexity beyond the euphotic pop waves crashing against your senses. The song allows Manasseh and Maghzal the opportunity to paint a compelling portrait of their home country and the tragedies which continue to direct its social and political progress.
“The song mirrors the recent events in Lebanon that have caused yet another massive wave of immigration,” the band explains. “Our people’s dreams and hopes have literally exploded with Beirut. Inspired by 90s techno pop, this song explores the feelings of loss and confusion that arise when we are faced with no other choice but to leave our home in search for a better life elsewhere.“
The accompanying lyric video was created by Mohamad Abdouni and features a video loop of questionable media fidelity. It always seems to be on the verge of disintegrating as we watch its glitchy visuals and the surreal movements of its subject. Still, the clip feels suitably frenetic and unpredictable as we wade through this mass of thudding beats, dense synths and hypnotic vocal theatrics.