The 1998 film The Truman Show is the story of a young man called Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who lives in a fabricated world controlled by a media conglomerate. Truman gradually becomes aware that his whole life is a televised lie. His journey to uncover the truth, and his desire to escape his contrived reality, culminates in him confronting his fears and the manipulations of those in control. Those watching his life story wear pins emblazoned with the quote, “HOW WILL IT END?”
The film, conceived long before the rise of reality television, social media, and artificial intelligence, offers a sharp critique of the invasion of privacy, media manipulation, the sense of self and reality, climate change, and consumerism. It also touches upon social polarization with a clarion call to challenge the structures that seek to control or deceive.
From the cultural crossroads of Antwerp, musician and visual artist Youniss delves into a profound introspection of identity and artistic utterance. He metaphorically dons the shoes of Truman Burbank with the blistering, blustery How Will It End? as he navigates the disconcerting, pervasive sentiment of being observed as a black individual with an Arabic moniker within a Western context.
Drawing inspiration from the unhinged vocal energy of Birthday Party’s Nick Cave, the innovative post-jazz sounds of Pere Ubu, and the unbridled anarchy of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Youniss gives voice to a poignant question that lingers with sharp resonance: Can one ever overcome the weight of persistent prejudice?
The track emanates the sensation of an encroaching barrier, where deep, chant-like vocals serve as an organic bass during its chorus. The rhythm, underscored by a relentless marching drum pattern, compels forward movement without reprieve. Amidst this, hauntingly expressive vocals intertwine with stark guitar resonances and untamed percussion, immersing listeners into its depths. This musical piece stands as an aural manifestation of Youniss’s deep ruminations on existence.
Filmed in the Antwerp club Trix, the video awkwardly gets close into Youniss’s face as he relentlessly asks, “How will it end?”
In “White Space,” Youniss grapples with personal anxieties birthed from the tumultuous wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
The conceptual underpinnings of “White Space,” both musically and visually, stem from the discomfort of misrecognition and the elusive quest for belonging. While his inaugural self-titled album celebrated the tender nuances of his heritage, this subsequent offering delves into his navigation of a predominantly white cultural landscape, detailing the intricate performances an artist of color might undertake. Despite its brevity at just 20 minutes, the record possesses an enduring intensity, reminiscent of a punk-rock relic from the 1990s, encouraging repeated listens to uncover its emotional nucleus.
Youniss’s latest creation challenges his own creative methods, experimenting with self-mastered guitar sequences, venturing into new vocal territories, and incorporating authentic drum patterns.
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Rising from the vibrant Belgian underground milieu, recent times have witnessed Youniss collaborating with notable up-and-comers like Porcelain_ID, IKRAAAN, and Shaka Shams. His compositions have provided the soundtrack for the evocative dance production “Bully,” choreographed by Tomas Ntamashimikiro and showcased at venues like OPEK and KVS. Wearing his visual artist hat, Youniss recently joined forces with the Belgian-Iraqi ensemble, Use Knife. He contributed the artistry for their newest album, ‘The Shedding of the Skin’, released under VIERNULVIER RECORDS. Beyond static visuals, he enhanced their live performances with dynamic visuals and stage design during their appearances at festivals including Le Guess Who? in the Netherlands and Videodroom and Sonic City in Belgium.
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