Racha Rizk: “Diva of the Damascus Opera”
What a voice. Racha Rizk is a singer from Damascus now based in Paris. “Sakru Shababîk” is my current favorite Rizk track for that soulful, powerful voice and bonus electric guitar – something I don’t hear too often in Arabic pop. Check out her interview with Onorient from earlier this year, and check her out via Facebook.
From Onorient (translated):
“Passed far too unnoticed, the first album of the Syrian diva, “Malak” released early 2017, deserves to be widely presented on new scenes.
The compositions of Racha Rizk tell with troubling softness the destructive consequences of the war in Syria. Her past of prima donna at the Opera is guessed in the elegance of her phrasing and the amplitude of her melodies. With the freedom of the great artists, she sings in Arabic on oriental music tunes, tinged with jazz, pop suspicions, or a few rock riffs.
His enveloping voice has already charmed several generations of moviegoers in France. A few years ago, she had lent her voice to the films of the Lebanese director Nadine Labaki Caramel and And now we go where? From now on, its homage to Syria and the Syrians is a tribute to the web, beyond the borders.”
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'”
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.”
Bandcamp Daily did a great profile on the Paris-based rock group Dead Pirates and how it transformed from a fake cartoon band into a real band. I recommend reading the entire profile as you check out the music video for “Ugo” below.
The group began as musical accompaniment for a music video by French illustrator Matthieu Bessudo (known as Mcbess). At first Mcbess did all the music, but soon he recruited other members and began touring the music. A side project turned into a full-time gig.
“It was strange,” Mcbess tells Bandcamp. “I went to South America to do an exhibition, and a friend of mine there was into some good music and said it would be easy to set up a tour. He landed us like six or seven dates.”
Highmare is the group’s debut LP. The “Ugo” music video features Mcbess’ trademark Max Fleischer-inspired artwork as the video is some sort of twisted adult spin on the classic animation.