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.”
JadaL is an Arabic rock band that’s been together for over 10 years and continues to release great music. The group’s third album, ‘Malyoun‘, came out this summer, and we have a music video for the horn-heavy title track.
Formed in Amman, Jordan in 2013, 47SOUL is one of the region’s most beloved bands pioneering a self-described “Shamstep” sound. Let’s break that down: The base of 47SOUL’s sound is in choubi, the music performed with the Arabic Dabke, the modern wedding dance of the Bilad Al-Sham area (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Jordan). For a more distinct sound, the band adds hip-hop beats and an electric mijwiz, a twist on the traditional double-pipe, single-reed woodwind instrument. Added all together, the music is essentially electronic Palestinian street music that the band dubs “Shamstep.”
The group’s first full release, last year’s appropriately titled Shamstep, was recorded in London. It’s full of analog synthesizers, looping guitars, and four powerful singers singing in both Arabic and English. It’s a bold statement from an ambitious band with a promising new sound.
The jazzy guitar puts me right at home with my Kenny Burrell records, and now I know where Vampire Weekend stole its drumming patterns from. Fun fact: The first Ibanez-made Oriental guitar is played on this song by Arabic fusion guitarist Kamal Musallam.
Arabs With Synthesizers is electronic duo George Rizeq and Zaed Na’es keyboardist Basel Naouri following one rule: no digital instruments. All the instruments you’re hearing on this track are analogue, and it’s a throwback sound from a contemporary Jordan.