Tarek Yamani: Jazz and Afro-Tarab Pianist from Beirut
My mind draws a blank when it thinks of jazz in the Middle East. There aren’t too many names that stand out to me doing notable things in the genre outside the United States, though this has more to do with my own ignorance and bad luck. Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani has changed that. Yamani, who now splits his time between New York and Dubai, uses jazz to, in his own words, explore the relationship between African-American jazz and Arabic rhythms and maqams.
Check out this great video via Your Middle East on how Yamani approaches jazz and songwriting.
“Born and raised in Beirut, Tarek is an American-Lebanese award winning composer and a self-taught jazz pianist who got exposed to jazz around the age of 19. Since the release of his debut “Ashur” in 2012, Tarek has been dedicated to exploring relationships between African-American Jazz and Arabic rhythms/maqams which is most evident in his second album ‘Lisan Al Tarab: Jazz Conceptions in Classical Arabic'”
Tapestry: Singapore Emo and a Back-to-Basics Raw Sound
When listening to Tapestry, a glorious and heartbreaking band from Singapore, time stops. Take “A Set Distance”, for example, the sixth track off their latest full length I Hope You Never Find Me. “The joy of living is gone,” dramatically sings Syed, the band’s vocalist and guitarist as the song starts, while the band weaves a delicate post-rock motif. Not long after, the song erupts in a furious explosion that preserves the same drama. Assisting the main vocals, passionate screams percolate through the rhythm: they sound raw, woolly and ultimately reminiscent of the unpretentious screamo of fifteen years ago.
These screams are a spark in the work of Tapestry, that surely owes a lot to Midwest emo. Bands like American Football or Penfold ongly helped the band define their sound, giving them a point of reference. But Tapestry takes emo very seriously, not as something they copied from the States, but as something to live for. The constancy of their releases is a proof of that. Since their first 2012 EP, the trio has worked hard to perfect their formula, refusing to adhere to new trends and sounds.
Their last songs, released on a split with Michigan-based Coma Regalia, are a further evidence of such enviable coherence. “Strings & Azimuth”, in particular, is one of the best tracks the band has ever released. There, Syed talks about spending two years away from home due to the compulsory military service in Singapore. Even if the song is centered around a very specific theme, there’s a certain universality within it. And also the revelation that at the moment it’s “unconventional places” such as Singapore that offer some of the most interesting emo bands in the world, possibly due to the fact that the issues they cover are more transferable to the defining poignant traits of the genre–while being rather distant from the Western imagery.
Shina Williams and His African Percussionists: Nigerian afro-disco at its finest
Disappointed by the new Arcade Fire album? Don’t despair! Don’t give up on disco! Listen to this killer Shina Williams and His African Percussionists track, the pinnacle of late ’70s Nigerian afro-disco. The song is re-released via Strut, a UK reissues label specializing in soul, funk, world sounds, disco, post-punk, and industrial music.
“Strut present a brand new 12′ reissue of Shina Williams’ monster Nigerian disco anthem ‘Agboju Logun’, pairing the rare original album version (originally released on Phonodisk Nigeria) with the more sparse 12′ remix which surfaced later internationally on Earthworks. This is the third release on STRUT’S new Original Masters Series.”
The Daydream Fit: The Dutch outfit stays close to its ’90s emo roots but have expanded its sound
Is there anything more bittersweet than a band going on hiatus or breaking up after releasing their best work? It isn’t rare, though; at times, the effort of releasing something outstanding is draining, it damages the personal relationships inside a band, or it makes its members realize they don’t have so much time to put on their musical project anymore.
When it comes to The Daydream Fit, a criminally underrated band based between Enschede and Utrecht, in the Netherlands, it’s unsure what the cause of their hiatus was. What we know is that their last self-titled EP is a rare gem in the contemporary emo scene, a mind blowing work that would have deserved a lot more attention.
The Daydream Fit is the second record by the Dutch outfit – the first was a three-songs EP resembling bands such as End Of A Year and characterized by a contagious freshness. Their last work is longer, with six songs graced by a masterful production that brings out the band’s ability to write songs that are seemingly simple but are written with a passionate attention to detail. The record is rich with references to the ’90s. On the second track “Stick To Yr Lies” it’s easy to hear the youthful urgency of Moss Icon, while on “New York City Tonight” there’s even a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitar player Lee Ranaldo.
But most importantly, it feels like it’s the approach of The Daydream Fit that comes from a different era, untouched by the contradictions of today or by the pressures of appearing a certain way. The band focuses on their music in the most genuine way possible: not only they play precisely what they want to play, but they also have the means to do it, and the result is truly poignant and brilliant.
Enfant: experimental electronic music from Bolivia
Quite ambitious with the Bukowski intro, eh? His poem “Style” kicks off this wonderfully weird album by Bolivian experimental electronic group Enfant, that makes music as void and bleak as this woman’s faceless face. Stick around for the whole album.
El 3ou: traditional Algerian music with hints of trip-hop, jazz, and reggae
Omar Siakhene, aka El 3ou, puts a new electro-pop remix spin on classic Algerian music. The touches of trip-hop, jazz, and reggae work to wonderful effect on these songs via this Boumerdes artist that you should know about.
Aseul: South Korean artist returns with the glitchy “Wake Up”
According to Korean Indie, “Wake Up” is a preview of Aseul‘s new, somewhat different, sound and that you should check out her first record for a proper introduction. I agree, but there’s also a lot to like in the new song; the song is free of any tight constraints and the melody comes and goes as it pleases over glitchy beats. Very excited for the new record.
Sufyvn: old school Nubian Sudanese percussion and grooves
I get the same feeling from listening to Sufyvn that I do listening to Tame Impala – a sort of otherworldliness that I can best describe as an ancient psychedelic sound. The Sudanese Beatsmith has been consistently releasing excellent music for the past couple of years, including his latest release, the Ascension EP, out now.
“The second installment of a four-part series. Compositions inspired by Nubian Sudanese percussion salvaged from old cassette tapes in Sufyvn’s hometown of Khartoum…Concept, arrangement, and cover artwork by Sufyvn.”
Sir Croissant: for fans of Big Thief, Daughter, and Bon Iver
There is beauty in youth, beauty in talent, and when the two overlap the result is often grandiose, unexpectedly fulfilling. This is pretty much what must have been going through the heads of those who attended the first ever show of Sir Croissant in Žiža, an alternative cafe in Banja Luka, the capital of the Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A venue that is usually chatty and noisy in the evenings – even when there’s a show. That night, though, when the local songwriter took the stage, everyone went abruptly silent, captured by his vocals from the very first few seconds.
One impressive thing here is that Igor Božanić alias Sir Croissant, who chose the name after a live album by Sia, is only 16-years-old, and has already released two EPs. The first one, Let Me Sleep, was recorded in his room with a webcam microphone, giving a lo-fi vibe that however doesn’t hide the most recognizable stylistic traits of his work. There’s the placidity of Lisa Hannigan in his vocals, but also the emotional tension of indie bands like Daughter and Big Thief, as his guitar picking masterfully matches the feelings he wants to evoke.
These qualities emerge much more vividly on his new EP, if i was a fish i would cry, also thanks to the synths of Milica Pendić, supplying the music with resounding nuances of holy. But it’s his songwriting and his storytelling skills that improved the most in just one year: songs like “johnson and johnson” and “doglady” are beautiful examples of how variegated his music can get, other than displaying his overflowing and empathic narrative made of romanticizing simple gestures and childhood memories. What he can achieve in the future is not calculable: what’s sure is that there’s something truly precious and important here.
Dona Onete: “the grande dame of Amazonian song”
There’s plenty of life in Dona Onete‘s singing, as if the 77-year-old just discovered the joys of love and romance and can’t help but to sing. Her whole life story (read below) is quite remarkable and enhances the Amazonian rhythms.
“Dona Onete – ‘the grande dame of Amazonian song’ – returns with further tales from the river Amazon on her sophomore album Banzeiro.
Whether she’s championing gay rights, singing about the delights of indecent proposals or praising a former lover for his ‘crazy ways of making love’, Banzeiro is defined by Onete’s honest reflections on life, love and sex, as well as her delight in the everyday pleasures of life in the Amazon, whether that’s spicy seasoning, salty kisses or fishy-smelling water.
Formerly a history teacher, folklore researcher, union representative, culture secretary and children’s author – “I never thought I would be a singer” she claims – Onete recorded her debut album Feitiço Caboclo at 73. A cult figure in Brazil and an ambassador for Amazonian culture, the music she sings is a unique mix of rhythms from native Brazilians, African slaves and the Caribbean – epitomised in the joyous carimbós that are her trademark.”