She’s expressing a lot with that shrug. Practicality, humility, self-awareness, dependability, generosity. As for comparing her vivid nightlife music to a lumpy breakfast, she’s being a little funny but completely on the level, because when you think about it, the big thrill of listening to dance music really is a lot like the mundane act of eating oatmeal. It’s a nourishment ritual in which our bodies convert what’s being served into thoughts and motions. Simple and mysterious, it gratifies, energizes and sustains.
This year, with our dance floors emptied out, Abd made sure nobody had to skip breakfast. In January, she released “Middle Ouest,” a strangely seductive album that tethered amorphous synthesizer splashes to the percussive traditions of her native Morocco. Then, a few months later, new Bergsonist EPs began appearing on Bandcamp nearly every Friday, each with its own six-character alphanumeric title, the hexadecimal color code of each recording’s thumbnail cover image. But despite their factory-made look, Abd’s serial techno sketches felt bespoke and intimate, and if you locked yourself into her routine, the rhythms of her life quite literally became your own.
Her sprawling rhythm diary — 22 EPs released between late April and early December, 112 tracks in total, more than six hours of music in full — was almost entirely instrumental, but her song titles reliably connected the music to the tumult of the day.
In April, a track titled “STIMULUS” felt worried, teasing and sparse. In May, the impatient drums of “QUARANTINE” seemed to charge in front of themselves, muddling time. In June, the high-pitched keys of “RACISM EVERYWHERE” haunted a deliberate, martial beat. And in November, not long after the media called the presidential election for Joe Biden, “EMOTIONAL” set minor key melodies to an invitingly danceable tempo — a celebratory song that couldn’t shake its anxiety.
She’s an expert with tension, but Abd knows how to do release, too. A standout Bergsonist cut from mid-June, “DREAMING,” feels so airy and propulsive it only takes three minutes to make you feel like your feet are levitating off the crust of this troubled planet. Wasn’t that the entire point of stepping onto a dance floor? To feel like you were floating off it? Weird year. It’s hard to remember, but this song will help.