Abdur Razzaq & Rafiyq - The Night of Power (Laylatu'l Qadri) (LP)
Recorded in one mystical night during Ramadan in 1982, The Night of Power (Laylatu'l Qadri) is a prophetic tapestry of politically and spiritually conscious poetry and revelatory home-studio electronic jazz.
The Night of Power was composed, performed and recorded by Dennis Matthews (credited on the record as Abdur Razzaq) in his home studio using a Fender Rhodes, Minimoog, and Roland CR-78. The album’s centre-piece is a capacious 38 minute spiritual mediation, guided by the spoken word–poet Rafiyq (Calvin Vivian). While the blueprint of Rafiyq’s grand vision might have been the inspiration, Matthews crafted the music to act as an emotional compass and add gravity to the revelations. The Night of Power is the result of multiple individual poems written in isolation, then spliced together to form a multifaceted message rooted in Islamic doctrine; upliftment and warning, the threat of cultural decay posed by materialism and new technology, the call for de-europeanization, and preservation of the world for an unborn generation. The durational tone establishes a sentiment equally alluring, melancholic, and profound. It’s a sonic space adjacent to the tradition of hip hop, birthed out of the same blues epistemology, but distinct from it—closer to the radical dialectics of Gil Scott-Heron or The Last Poets.
The album ends with a sonic epilogue, the instrumental Reflections from the Grave, an auditory afterlife grounded in the eternal rhythm of the CR-78. The song traces the shape of the human soul within the confines of modern technology, between the interplay of man and (drum)machine. Now 40 years later, the prescient record holds a mirror up to our present day reality. As we struggle against a world that defers to speed and consumption, The Night of Power is a testament to fortitude, ingenuity, and the ongoing pursuit of a more equitable future. This is the forward-leaning brilliance of the record, where notions of time are suspended, implying that anything is possible between dusk and dawn.
Remastered from the original reels, with an accompanying booklet of archival photos, reflections on the album by Dennis Matthews, and an essay by Melissa Vincent.
RIYL: Amiri Baraka, Sun Ra’s Disco 3000, Roland Young, Otis G. Johnson, Jeff Phelps, TJ Hustler