As I spent Chinese New Year’s Eve in the company of a friend and watched in amazement as to how empty my part of town was, I decided to call it a night and spent a bit of time enjoying some music. This was the first result of a healthy list of music I indulged in. This was my first exposure to the Abdel Karim Ensemble. I’m looking forward to finding more albums, as they play great traditional music from Syria, Egypt, Morocco and pre-Reconquista Spain. Magnificent listening.
The legendary Rock & Raï singer Rachid Taha passed away a few days ago at the age of 59 from a heart attack. Many writers and commentators have eulogized him in his passing, but the best the most fitting tribute comes from Radio Amazigh DJ Paloma Colombe.
Her program is mandatory listening for anyone into out-there music, but in her latest podcast, she combines not only Taha’s music but testimonies, as he not only influenced so many younger artists in France and the Maghreb, but was brilliant at synthesizing sounds in a catchy and energetic way.
The program is in French, so if you needed an excuse to practice, I can’t think of a better thing to inspire you with.
When he’s not working on his own music as Sonologyst, Raffaele Pezzella of Unexplained Sounds captures a lot of attention by releasing travelogue compilations covering the best of experimental and dark ambient music from various countries and regions. This one may well be his crowning effort.
All of these, with the exception of Sharif Sehnaoui, are unfamiliar names, but the sounds, which range from slow, churning, rhythmic drone to post-Industrial noise, the compilation introduces what I’m hoping is an energetic crop of new music composers whose influence will spread quickly both inside and outside the Levant.
Could a Syrian or Iraqi electroacoustic scene be next? I surely hope so!
Perfect Good Friday listening from Fairuz.
Arwa Haider writes an article for the BBC on how bootleg music is spread throughout one of the most anti-pop-music cultures on the face of the Earth.