Raft is (sort of) a j-pop band with a purpose: to establish and promote “Liberal Music,” where music can be made across great distances and overcome any cultural barriers. With members from Japan and Thailand, these self-proclaimed ambassadors of worldly music make sweet and catchy Asian pop.
“We are developing a free music concept named ‘LIBERAL MUSIC’ where the music is not limited by boarder, language and style. A music that attracts anyone, anywhere with combination of rock, pop and all other sorts of music.”
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.”
Gravity Project is a Tbilisi trip-hop quintet featuring Tato Rusia of MokuMoku. From its sound, a “project” is a good description; each musician, an experienced player in his and her own right, brings something different to the table. There isn’t much on record yet, so I’m excited to see where this project goes and hopefully catch them live in the states one day.
Tumi Molekane (now known as Stogie T.) released “Too Long” back in January, and in the following months, one of South Africa’s most popular rappers released his self-titled debut album under his new name. Tumi is a gem and an exception in rap; he’s an acclaimed and popular rapper who’s maintained a strong 10+ year long career, which is praiseworthy for any rapper in the world. If you like what you hear, check out his work with Tumi and the Volume.
Seeing how Milan has become a melting-pot of different cultures, it’s not strange to find that the most notable rapper in the city right now is of Tunisian origin. Reaching out from Baggio, a suburb in the western part of the city, Ghali Amdouni – simply known as Ghali – is quickly being recognized and respected in the whole peninsula.
Born in 1993, Ghali started getting into hip-hop at an early age, and by 2011 he had already formed his first hip hop group, Troupe D’Elite. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that he got the chance to grow out of the Milanese hip-hop niche by starting a collaboration with young producer Charlie Charles and establishing himself as one of the most interesting and experimental artists of the country. Dreamy trap beats, a wide use of autotune, and a certain overwhelming musicality are the defining features of his music.
While sometimes these traits seem to overshadow the lyrical work of the rapper, and old school flows are replaced by melodic tones that blend perfectly with the beats, Ghali still manages to bring his experiences to the listener in an endearing way. Occasionally mixing Italian and Arabic, he recounts tales of marginalization and prejudice while spitting rhymes about his life in the most sincere way possible, without hiding any detail or keeping any secrets.
Ghali hasn’t recorded a full album yet, choosing instead to issue a series of poignant singles. Tactically released with gaps of two-four months within each other, they’re all matched with impressive music videos. The imaginary he evokes is rarely a troubled one, in a ghetto-inspired manner. Instead, his videos are trippy, filled with childhood references and surreal settings, from the snowy landscape of Dende to the ethnically connoted desert of “Wily Wily,” one of his best tracks.
There’s a lot going on in “FSU” – a dark smokey room, a cryptic piano, tight Nine Inch Nails-like percussion, ’80s New Wave sound bits, a dancer, and a dude (Istanbul’s Berkay Özideş) in a robe singing while trying out for the next Assassin’s Creed movie. This is one of those cases where you need to watch while also listening.
Do you miss David Bowie and dig bands like Phantogram? Here’s Öhrn. According to Ja Ja Ja, “Bang Bang” will appear on an EP due late November via her own label, Eagle Brain. Stay tuned for hopefully more of that singing and saxophone.