[Music] Various Artists – Habibi Funk 014: Solidarity With Beirut

I’m sure a lot of you, dear friends, saw the horrifying blast which occurred in Beirut, Lebanon a few days ago. Well over a hundred were killed in the blast, and countless more have been maimed. Our friends at Habibi Funk offer up this compilation of amazing Lebanese artists, with all proceeds going to the Lebanese Red Cross, who are in dire need of both funds and blood donations at this time.

We pray for the souls of those lost in the blast, and we also thank those good people contributing materially.

From Habibi Funk’s Bandcamp site:

We at Habibi Funk have been shocked and saddened by the explosion in Beirut 3 days ago. It was important for us to express our solidarity so we reached out to the network of musicians we have adored in the last few years to put together a release. 100% of the profits will go the the Lebanese Red Cross. All tracks from this compilation come from artists from Beirut, some of them don’t live there anymore but the city was essential for their musical career. Although the process of compiling this release was super rushed in order to help in raising funds as quickly as possible, we truly love how it turned out to be musically.

Rogér Fakhr who contributed 2 tracks was a stable of Beiruts 1970s scene of musicians. He played in Fairouz’s band and while his music might not be remembered outside of an informed circle, we have rarely come across a musician whose outstanding talent has been cherished more by his fellow artists. Whenever his name becomes part of a conversation among the scene of old musicians in Beirut, you hear nothing but adoration for his musical abilities and song-writing.

Ferkat Al Ard is one of our favorite bands ever at Habibi Funk. It was founded by Issam Hajali (whose first solo album we re-released), Toufic Farroukh and Elie Saba. They recorded three albums in which they effortlessly combined jazz, folk, at times Brazilian music, poetry and a political attitude into a unique web of musical beauty. „هجاء“ is the title track from their third and final album.

Toufic Farroukh is not only a founding member of Ferkat Al Ard, but also renowned solo artist. He left Beirut for Paris where he carved his own lane bringing together the musical influences of his homeland with jazz, recording 8 solo albums since 1996. “Villes invisibles“ feels at the same time melancholic and hopeful.

Munir Khauli stems from the same clique of musicians as the aforementioned artists. He also played with renown artists such as Ziad Rahbani and Fairouz, simultaneously releasing solo material. His track “Heik ha Nishtghil?“, recorded in the mid 1980s, had a viral resurgence on social media after people realized that his description of the issues of Beirut have not changed much over the decades and many of his lines from 35 years ago still resonate as adequate today:

“My, oh my, what a Lebanon.

Garbage on the streets, airport closed down, car thefts thriving,

“Is this how we’re gonna work?”

Roadblocks and militias, racial kidnapping, guns and Kalashnikovs,

“Man, is this how we’re gonna work?”

Jobs are scarce, some folks clothed, some barefoot, the dollar rate is rising,

“Where is this leading?”

Violence and ferocity, senators and (parliamentary) seats, massacres and tragedies,

“Is this how we’re gonna work?”

Bombs and explosions, booze and drugs, poverty and downtroddenness,

“What a situation.“

Abboud Saadi is one of the key musicians both behind Samir & Abboud and Force. Both bands were active during the 1980s when similar groups of musicians, including Ziad Rahbani who played on the recordings of both bands, would gather in different bands dedicated to very different musical sounds. „Stand Up“ deals with Beirut during the civil war and the loneliness, the permeant state of conflict brought upon its citizens.

Even before the explosion 3 days ago the situation in Lebanon was dire: Since October 2019 Lebanon’s currency lost 80% of its value, with most people not even being able to access whatever is left of their life savings due to banks’ limits on monthly withdrawal. The costs of basic goods have inflated over 50% for the third month in a row. And while the inflation level would be dramatic for every country, it’s catastrophic for a country like Lebanon, whose economy and public services rely heavily on imports. If all of this was not bad enough, the lockdown associated with the Corona virus reinforced the downwards spiral even more. As a result 65% of the country’s population has slipped into poverty, and starvation is a major threat. A report by Save The Children summarized that “50% of Lebanese, 63% of Palestinians and 75% of Syrians were worried they would not have enough to eat.”

Shout out to Beirut Groove Collective, Chico Records, Sole DXB, Raphaelle Macaron and all artists involved. 

[Music] Saulius Petreikis – Negirdėta Lietuva

Saulius Petreikis is the lynchpin of the Lithuanian ethno-folk music scene.  This is a good survey of ethnic music preserved and reinterpreted from the villages of the country.  For Saulius’ Bandcamp site:

Unheard Lithuania – is a collection of musical sounds that were heard long before we were born and will exist long after we are gone. It gathers hundred-years-old stories about our ancestors and the forests and fields they used to live in. Acquaintance with this music began one spring morning in Barstyčiai, Lithuania. I was still a little boy (four years old or so), when my grandfather made me my first flute. Its’ sound still haunts me to this day.

Unheard Lithuania is the melodies and stories rooted deep into our very being. It is young shepherds playing molinukai and skudučiai flutes. It is a child with a jaw harp between his lips and an old man in the field, mourning for his loved one. It is the sound of a horn at the edge of a forest announcing the arrival of the herd. It is a little girl talking to the birds with her lumzdelis flute.

Special website with videos (in english and lithuanian languages) – www.ltinstrumentai.lt

[Music] What is serious music?! — Stephen Jones: a blog

Stephen Jones put up a very interesting blog post in October of last year asking an eternal question vexing music fans.

*For main page, click here!* (in main menu, under WAM) I’ve just added a lengthy article on the demotion of WAM, and the flawed concept of “serious music”. It’s based on the stimulating work of Richard Taruskin on the “classical music crisis” prompted by the defection of critics to pop music since the 1960s, as he challenges […]

via What is serious music?! — Stephen Jones: a blog

[Music] Various Artists – SƏS: Azeri Music for Krot Zine

Yet another entertaining and utterly essential compilation of music from the Caucasus has been released by my favorite ethnic music label currently active, Ored Recordings.  Many thanks to Bulat Khalilov for his brilliant work in digging up these gems which would otherwise be lost to history.  Azerbaijan is a country with stellar traditions in music and storytelling, and it is my hope that Ored can continue to bring artists like this to the fore.

[Music] Steppe-Scape (Stars of Eurasia) – The Great Steppe Live

Stick Men guitarist/Chapman Stick player Markus Reuter participates in a stunningly good collaboration wedding progressive rock and improvisation with music from Central Asia. Featured on this record are the following musicians:


Namgar Lkhasaranova: vocals, yataga, khomus
Radik Tyulyush: vocals, throat-singing, igil
Angela Manukyan: vocals
Markus Reuter: Touch Guitars® U8, soundscapes, musical director
Merlin Ettore: hybrid drums, arrangements for Volga, Mother River
Eugene Zolotarev: chanza, bass
Robert Yuldashev – kurai

Not a bad debut at all, especially considering what amazing talent each individual brings to this project.  Kudos to iapetus for releasing this.

[Music] Zaur Nagoy – Djeguako: Live at Red Bull Music Festival Moscow

Ored Recordings produce some of the most unique and interesting music coming out of southern Russia.  They straddle the line between being a proper record label producing vital new music and preserving ancient artifacts.  Some notes about Zaur Nagoy’s release, courtesy of Ored’s Bandcamp page:

The Red Bull Music Festival took place on September 14-16 in Moscow. Red Bull conducts similar festivals around the world and every time tries to demonstrate the potential of local music and situate local sounds within a global context. The Moscow event was constructed around the same principles, with the slogan: “The unity of musical culture: from tradition to experiment.”

In regard to tradition and experiments, Ored Recordings was invited to give our perspective . Our portion was titled: Experimental Ethnographics, in which we spoke with the French documentarian, our friend and source of inspiration Vincent Moon, and the founder of the Morphine Records label, Rabih Beaini from Berlin. Vincent’s lecture and the collaborative audiovisual performance with Rabih features an experimental approach to ethnography and music and in this showcase Ored presented “original” sounds. For this we brought from Adygea the trio of Zaur Nagoy, Kazbek Nagaroko and Ramazan Daur – famous for their ensemble Zhyu, the film “Bonfires and Stars,” and our releases of their music.

At the last moment, due to a force majeure and only Nagoy reached the festival. For the festival, the label,and Zaur, these logistical changes became a real challenge. it became necessary to change the concept and format of the showcase.

In Circassian music, group performance is canon. In the choir (zhyu / ezhu) there is a saying: “The zhyu is a whip for a song.” The chorus of refrains and vocals largely determines the structure, rhythm and dynamics of a song. Even the outstanding Djeguako (minstrels) of the past have always had a small ensemble to back them up. At the same time, in archival records solo performance is quite common.

To this day, ethnomusicologists have been arguing as to whether or not there was mono-voiced performance before polyphony or that it is instead an indicator of the degradation of the singing tradition. Whatever it was, today, solo performance is a special, albeit not popular style of traditional Circassian music. Given the circumstances, Zaur had to demonstrate it.

For each song Zaur Nagoy gave comments on both the song’s content and context*. He did so not in an official/academic way, but with a liberating tone, reviving the story of the song with vernacular phrases and jargon. Thanks to this form of speech, the performace flet more like a ritual meeting in khachesh (guest room) combined with a stand-up show. And in the context of this release you may hear aspects similar to the genre of spoken-word.

Even if this experience of Zaur Nagoy’s solo release was an accident, we now want to work purposefully with this aesthetics and style in the future.