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Adventurous Middle Eastern Music (2015)

Jerusalem in My Heart – If He Dies, If If If If If If

Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, alongside fellow Montreal artist Charles-André Coderre, returns with If He Dies, If If If If If If, a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes of Montréal and Beirut.

Johnny Kafta Anti Vegetarian Orchestra

Vinyl debut by Lebanon’s Johnny Kafta Anti Vegetarian Orchestra featuring members of Malayeen, Scrambled Eggs & A-Trio! Initially a combination of two of Lebanon’s most active and longest standing groups, JKAVO was founded when Scrambled Eggs (punk-rock band founded in 1998) & “A” Trio (free improv trio founded in 2002) joined forces and mixed styles to record “Beach Party at Mirna el-Chalouhi” in January 2009, combining each trio’s distinctive sound to create something genuinely new, somewhere between punk and krautrock, free jazz and improvisation.

Rizan Said – King of the keyboard

Rizan Said is probably best know for playing keyboards and programming in Omar Souleyman band, the undisputed king of Dabke a popular style of music in Syria.

Checkpoint 303 – the Iqrit Files

Nakba (”The catastrophe”) is the Arabic term for the expelling of the Palestinians from their towns and villages at the time of the proclamation of the state of Israel in 1948. At this time, somewhere between 360 and 412 Palestinian villages were evacuated by
force and demolished or annexed.

One of these villages was Iqrit in the Upper Galilee, close to the Lebanese border. In November 1948 the IDF ordered the 500 inhabitants to evacuate temporarily because of the strategic position of the village. The promise they were given was, that after a couple of weeks they would be allowed to move back. This promise was never kept.

The music and sound art collective Checkpoint 303 processed the voices from Iqrit, weaving them into new electro-acoustic soundscapes. The recordings from the Iqrit singers are surrounded by field recordings and recycled audio snippets, often embedded in a variety of global urban beats, ranging from breakbeats to down tempo or experimental electronica. The immersive sonic atmosphere, nourished by
the authenticity of the voices, delivers a message of beauty but also of the utter urgency of dealing with the ongoing injustice in Palestine.

47SOUL – Shamstep

47SOUL is an electro-mijwez, shamstep, choubi band. The members are rooted in Bilad Al-Sham, spanning the divides from Amman to the Galilee, the Golan Heights to Ramallah. This new sound of 47SOUL has rapidly amassed fans in the Middle East and Europe by blasting the electric Arabic debka sound through underground music scenes.

Overcoming physical and logistical challenges, they came together to play electronic Palestinian street music. 47SOUL writes and performs to speak about freedom of movement, whether that’s sparking new dance styles or singing about breaking down border check points. For the past 2 years the band has based itself between Jordan and the UK, to spread their new wave of Arabic music.

Their sound is rooted in Arabic Dabke, the celebration dance music from the Bilad Al-Sham area; the name for the land that spans Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan. 47SOUL hypes it up with analog synthesizers, drum machines, epic guitar lines, and tripped-out English and Arabic verses from the four singers. The electronic and urban influence in their music takes them far out of the ‘world music’ context and places them in the genre of a new generation of international electronic/hip hop acts that are reinventing the old for the future. This new sound of 47SOUL is called ShamStep.

“A” Trio & Alan Bishop – Burj Al Imam, 2015

Entirely recorded at Tunefork Studios on the outskirts of Beirut, Burj al Imam’s five tracks include three largely improvised numbers, a loose reworking of early Sun City Girls track “The Imam,” and a cover of traditional Americana song “Gently Johnny.” The album displays remarkable coherence, for four musicians coming from such different backgrounds. True to their habits, the Lebanese trio of trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui, and bassist Raed Yassin create acoustic improvised drones that range from insistent, chiming resonances with emergency alarm bells to low, thrumming hums. The three musicians largely avoid conventional technique, instead using what sounds like motorized devices to generate rattling, metallic vibrations, building a mechanistic backdrop out of which the instruments’ true voices occasionally arise. Perched above the ambient din,Alan Bishop is in fine form, and alternates between gentle crooning and malevolent whispering. Alan Bishop: guitar and voice; Mazen Kerbaj: trumpet; Sharif Sehnaoui: acoustic guitar; Raed Yassin: double bass.

El Mahdy Jr – Ghost Tapes

The haunting collages of El Mahdy Jr come to discrepant with the appropriately named Ghost Tapes LP. Ghost Tapes goes deeper into El Mahdy’s very own personal sonic space, in the artist’s words: ?”Ghost Tapes is a composition of everyday fragments based on found tapes, field recordings, beats and radio frequencies. A ruff attempt of interpreting the cultural ghost that surrounds the field and makes the difference between place and space.”

Fadi Tabbal – Museum of Disappearing Buildings

Following studies in sound engineering in Montreal, Canada, Fadi Tabbal relocated to Beirut in 2006 and promptly established Tunefork Recording Studios, a specialized workspace that offers customized services including full band recording, live sound and mixing. His solo efforts are comprised of guitar pieces from stripped acoustics to ambient/shoegazing treatments.

Offshore Devices Vol.1: Ravikkai Groove

Offshore Devices is a label run by a trio of Middle Eastern producers Al Rajul Al Hadidi, Munma and Jad Atoui that releases remixes EPs.

Hector Osbert – Hiraeth

‘Hiraeth’ is a solo release by Go! Save The Hostages! songwriter / producer Amir, under the moniker ‘Hector Osbert’.

Habibi Funk – Mixtape

These Habibi Funk music mixes of 70s and 80s vinyl from the Middle East by Jannis of Jakarta Records are always an absolute joy. For the latest installment Jannis spent some time in Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan. “This mix is some of the music I found, a few trades are in there too. It’s quite a colorful range. Disco from Algeria and Morocco, a James Brown cover from Egypt, a modern soul meets reggae hybrid from Tunisia, a new Fadoul track that the internet doesn’t seem to know of yet and some other great bits and pieces. Come along to another journey to the funky side of the arab world.”

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