Yasmin was always meant to be the birth of a new sound for Kumail. After spending his formative years delving into textural lo-fi electronica and textural ambient music, he went searching for a new sound more in-tune with his older, more mature, and more thoughtful self. What began as a study of modern soul music – drawing heavily from R&B, jazz and hip-hop – eventually sprawled to include flavours from across the world and time. 80’s Japanese funk, crackling gospel, shiny disco, cutting-edge LA beat music and the omnipresence of Dilla, all leave their faint but indelible mark. But deep within, Yasmin is a gritty world in which not much is going right. That world borders on real-life struggles with sleeplessness and anxiety, and being cooped up in a room in Bombay, India, which is where (and how) most of this album came to life. Countless nights spent making music to distract from a lack of inner calm and rest.
Despite deliberately steering clear from sampling for his career thus far, a day spent digging in Istanbul ended up inspiring much of the album – not only did that day yield a discovery of Pierre Akendengue’s ‘Olatano, w'intye so du s' Afrika' (a sample of which appears on ‘Obota’) but also a range of 80’s soul records that transformed Kumail into a student for the next two years. With a renewed focus on musicality, practising playing the piano, learning new songs and improving production skills, Yasmin evolved into a 30 minute mood-board of lush voicings and explorations beyond just beat-making. The ensuing recording sessions featured a line-up of both all-star local session musicians as well as invited collaborators - Sid Vashi and Pink Siifu both deliver memorable features. Despite vocal performances eventually making their way onto nearly all songs on the record, Yasmin was never meant to feature Kumail’s singing. With or without vocals, Yasmin’s triumph is that it is nevertheless unmistakably the sound of Kumail finding his voice.