El Morabba3: independent Arabic music from Jordan/Palestine
An oldie but a goodie, El Morabba3 has been making some of the most consistently interesting alternative music in Jordan for a couple of years. “Asheek,” a personal highlight, wouldn’t sound too off on the new National album.
“The more an artist attempts a truthful reflection of the human condition the more conflicts and paradoxes will appear in their work, that’s why the music of El-Morabba is euphoric and deliciously dark; it fills you with an acute sense of elation while the lyrics crash down on you with their intense reality and truth.
It is rebellious music that lends a voice to the thoughts, concerns and anger of the people towards the reality they are living today, yet most of all it lends a voice to a dream that is dormant within us all, nudges it sometimes, or shocks the hell out of it onto the surface in other instances of pure intensity. All of this is translated through music that is uniquely structured; the rhythm, while always holding a firm base of ergonomic structure with the simple yet efficient heartbeat of the bass, it manages to float within it’s own spheres alongside the heavily transformed guitar expressions like two astronauts floating individually away, or towards their shuttle, winking at each other in the realization that they will always reach their destination simultaneously because they’d timed it that way, and they’d done it a billion times before.
And during this dance of rhythm and atmosphere between the drums, percussion and guitar, the vocals of either Muhammad Abdullah or Tareq Abu Kwaik floats massively on the surface giving purpose and clarity to a dreamlike state without awakening the listeners, they come with the intensity of words half sung or half spoken, sweet and sour melodies doubled by indistinguishable screams of ecstasy and anguish.
The combination defies definition, yet is awash with purpose, it is also uniquely vulnerable and holistic, very human.”
TATRAN: Tel Aviv psychedelic instrumental power-trio previews new album with bizarre (and excellent) new music video
I have no idea what’s going on in TATRAN‘s latest music video, and I think that’s OK. From the jarring dancing to the masked people who look like Miyazaki extras, there’s a lot going on, and it’s all soundtracked to experimental and jazzy instrumental post-rock.
The video is for “Eyes,” the latest single from the group’s upcoming album ‘No Sides,’ out June 2nd.
From the press release:
“The latest video from Israel’s Tatran is a pulsating visual experience. Created for their latest single “Eyes”, which is also featured on the upcoming album. The work takes place in an ancient bell cave in Israel. As strange figures marvel with each frame, showcasing unique and eye catching abstractions. The lack of identity given to these characters allows them to move with fluidity, while being consumed by the distinctive space.
An incredibly tight production, the video progresses with quick pace mirroring with the unparalleled high notes and melody of the bass, and the deep low lines courtesy of the guitar. The result is a mesmerizing display of creativity that is difficult to ignore. As the video concludes, members of the obtuse pack join a deity, who utilizes a supernatural dance to communicate sweet vibrations to her troops.”
Oiseaux-Tempête: for fans of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and uplifting dread
You know that feeling when you listen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor and you sense that the world is about to fold onto you and crush you and everything you’ve ever known, but somehow this is OK and in tune with how the world should be? Parisian band Oiseaux-Tempête knows this feeling, and they add a Middle-Eastern flavor to their uplifting dread that takes its time with you. Stick around for all of ‘AL – ‘AN ! الآن (And your night is your shadow — a fairy – tale piece of land to make our dreams)’ and you won’t be disappointed.
“These are some live epiphanies improvised between Middle-East and Europe during the year of chaos 2016…Field recordings shot in Lebanon between March and October 2016…Poems by Mahmoud Darwish extracts from ‘The Offering’ and ‘Red Indian’s Penultimate Speech to the White Man'”
Midnight Peacocks: Israeli stoner metal that embraces its Arabic roots
I don’t often hear violins in stoner metal, so Midnight Peacocks quickly grabbed my attention from “Tzar Bomba” and kept it throughout their entire new LP, ‘Katastroffa,’ which is out now.
From Bandcamp bio:
“The Midnight Peacocks are:
Eitan Radoshinski: Vocals & bass
Guy Shemi: Guitar & Backing Vocals
Yoav Zohar: Drums
Yoni Silver: Violin, Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Keyboards & Piano
Hezi Shohet: Poetry”
Midnight Peacocks: Facebook
Al Massrieen: Arabic funk via the essential Habibi Funk Records
Al Massrieen, this gem of a band, came onto my radar when I was introduced to Habibi Funk Records, a Berlin sub-label of Jakarta Records that specializes in reissuing Arabic funk and jazz music from the ’70s and ’80s. Al Massrieen was an Egyptian band that played groovy Arabic funk from 1977 until the group’s end in 1988.
The full release, titled ‘Habibi Funk 006: Modern Music,’ will be released online April 28th.
From Habibi Funk’s SoundCloud:
“[This] was one of the first bands I learned about once I discovered the tape format. They were really popular in Egypt in the 1970s and the more of their music I found on either tapes or Arabic pirate mp3 sites, the more I was becoming a fan. Only very few bands from the region can match the band’s versatility as well as their strive for innovation. Hany Shenoda is the man behind the [band]. He is a reknown figure of the Egyptian music scene and has worked with everyone from Abdel Halim Hafez to Mohamed Mounir. Al Massrieen was his attempt to introduce his ideas of modernizing Egyptian music, heavily encouraged by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt’s only winner of the Nobel Price for literature) after discussing his ideas with him.”
Yazz Ahmed: British jazz meets the Persian Gulf
Bahrain-born, UK-based multi-instrumentalist Yazz Ahmed, like Kamasi Washington in the United States, is reintroducing a new generation to modern jazz. Ahmed has worked with These New Puritans and Radiohead (she plays flugelhorn throughout ‘The King of Limbs’), and in her solo music, she combines her British and Arabic roots through jazz and electronic experimentation. Even if you’re not familiar or terribly interested in jazz, Ahmed’s music deserves your attention, and she’ll most likely make you second guess your thoughts on jazz.
From Ahmed’s Bandcamp bio:
“[Yazz Ahmed’s] new album ‘La Saboteuse’ [out May 12, 2017] is a deep exploration of both her British and Bahraini roots. Ably assisted by musicians including Lewis Wright on vibraphone, MOBO-winning new jazz kingpin Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Naadia Sherriff on Fender Rhodes keyboard, it’s composed of undulating rhythms, Middle Eastern melody and Yazz’s sonorous trumpet lines. The record sounds like the passage of a desert caravan, bathed in moonlight. The theme of ‘La Saboteuse’ is the sense of self-doubt that Yazz feels when she is creating, personified in a female saboteur, an anti-muse that spurs her into action.
‘La Saboteuse’ will be released in four chapters incrementally, unraveling the story, before the full version is available. Each chapter has its own cover, with beautiful illustrations by Bristol artist Sophie Bass.”
Ghoula: techno glitchiness meets natural North African instrumentation
Shouka is a French/Tunisian independent music label. Ghoula, who is on Shouka, is a Tunisian musician and producer who makes wonderful music that combines a sort of modern techno glitchiness with natural North African instrumentation.
From Ghoula’s bio on his website:
“This first solo album was mainly born as a result of Ghoula’s great passion for old North African vinyls. He would dig up vinyls from flea markets and the old Tunisian medinas, and then play various instruments over the original music. Gradually, he started sampling, to exhibit short particular sounds, which he used like bricks to build a brand new music genre. Thus, he immersed himself in a world apart, a world that he explored step by step through its various themes and lyrics. His ultimate goal would be to give a new life to this hidden musical heritage. With this in mind, and also to pay tribute to the nickname that he has always had, Ghoula decided to highlight the importance of his heritage even through the album’s title: Hlib el Ghoula.”
Baharat: vintage Israeli surf rock
Baharat is one of the many exciting bands on Batov Records, a London based independent label with sounds from all over the world. I’m drawn to this Tel Aviv three-piece because the music sounds psychedelic but tight, a kaleidoscope sound that doesn’t get in the way of itself. If you like Tame Impala or any music that would fit well in an Urban Outfitters, you’ll especially like this group.
“In middle eastern cuisine it’s well known – ‘don’t forget to add some Baharat to the dish! It always brings the magic!’ We are very pleased and excited to add a special new spice to the Batov Records kitchen…a band of 3 of Tel-Aviv’s finest hipsters, mixing the flavours of middle-eastern sounds with the vintage vibes of surf music. This tasty EP was recorded at home with minimal equipment, superb musicianship, lots of humility, a tape machine and no drugs. It is still a hallucination of timeless tunes.. and if you don’t think we’re objective about it, you are definitely right.”
Eslam Salem: for fans of ‘Hail To The Thief’ and other moody jams
The latest release from Cairo’s Eslam Salem is a somber affair, with twitching beats and guitars supporting a mournful voice with quite a range. The results echo Radiohead’s ‘Hail To The Thief’ in that you can hear human pain behind manipulated sounds.
Bargou 08: “a unique blend of popular Tunisian music with modern, hard-pumping rave”
Wonder what post-‘Think Tank’ Blur would sound like if they spend more time in Tunisia? Bargou 08 is your answer. “Mamchout” is the first single off new album ‘Targ,’ which comes out February 17th via Glitterbeat Records.
“[This] Belgo-Tunisian band plays a unique blend of popular Tunisian music with modern, hard-pumping rave. The meeting between the heavy synth groove and the sound of the melismatic flute, reaches an even higher level with the playful rhythm section and the charismatic front man strong vocals. A musical journey through the almost forgotten popular landscapes of north – west Tunisia, an isolated region between the Tunisian mountains and the Algerian border. [They take] the listener to a journey through this musical heritage, so close to extinction, and perpetuate it through a celebration of authentic lyrics, melodies and dance, combined with modern beats and electronic sounds.”