Tag Archives: Middle Eastern

straight from… Dubai

6 Feb

Who would have guessed that Facebook adds actually serve some purpose? And that the advertised music can be soooo damn good?
Who would have guessed that you can get one of the best albums of the previous year from… Dubai?
Hah! You don’t believe me, don’t you?

Personally I hate Facebook adds and I never pay attention to them. If I ever do, it usually means they have to be utterly stupid to focus my attention. However, an add for a band called Absolace haunted me for a while and at some point, though I get lots of music adds, I decided to give it a try. And I was blown away totally! Their debut album, Resolve[d], was released last year (sometime early summer but cannot find exactly when) and, oh, what a shame, I found out about it only now 😦

A rather unknown band from Dubai, consisting of different members – a multicultural taste (Arab vocalist, Greek drummer, American guitarist/bassist/pianist) – this is what Absolace is. And it’s just amazing.

Ok, I have to admit that guys are not revealing nothing that we don’t know already. The similarity to other contemporary art/prog rock/metal groups influenced by Middle Eastern rhythms is obvious. Especially Tool resemblances are huge! Still, I have to admit that in the world in which, really, nothing new is created and everyone copies after other musicians, I have to admit that guys from Absolace chose a real hard way. After all, copying Tool (even if it is a copy) is aiming at the stars. And, well, you gotta learn, right? Why not learn from professionals? 😉

On the other hand, I would probably defend Absolace as a unique thing. The similarities are there, ok. Each band has its own masters and influences. Absolace, however, being very Tool-ish remains geniuine. First of all, the amazing voice of Nadim Jamal. He has a natural way of singing. Not streching his vocal cords, not trying to pretend anything. This simplicity proves to be actually far more emotional than any screams. Although, when needed, sure he can scream. Luckily, we’re past the 1980’s and nobody expects rock and metal singers to pretend they’re having constipation (Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Axl Rose for instance, though, as a child of the 1980’s I have a little sympathy for Rose). Jamal is just amazing in this. The simplicity of melodic lines and the natural way in which he uses his voice create something which is just touching.

The other thing is that – however weird it may sound since Tool is a very progressive and experimental band and has always been – Absolace seems to be more eager to experiment with electronics. Sure, it’s not industrial and the electro tunes do not go far beyond a pretty simple synthesizer. Still, it adds a nice prog-spice to the whole.

And speaking of Dubai… not all of the rhythms come from the Middle East or traditional Arabic music. Some of the tracks will really surprise you by how true they are to the American rock tradition.

Just enjoy. You will love it! Honestly – I did.
And, please, do share this information, spread it, buy their CD! All the info you need is available at their myspace profile – click here). These guys need our help in promoting their music!

Share

poet of the ordinary

16 Jun

Ok. I won’t lie. I was warned. Damon Albarn stated clearly that it’s the most pop record he’s ever made. Yes. Different music journalists quoted that statement. Yes. Somebody called it even a soundtrack to a cartoon. Yes. Yet, I decided to check the newest album of Gorillaz on my own. Mostly because I believe Albarn is one of the most interesting musicians in Great Britain. Also, cause I don’t trust newspapers and reviews until I try something on my own. Naaah, ok, let’s be honest – simply cause I like Gorillaz. And maybe I didn’t adore their previous albums, they didn’t change my life, my world, or whatever (no grand words, hush!) but they’re simply good, fresh and created by really good musicians, who, moreover, have a great sense of humor.

And I have to say that Plastic Beach is stunning. It’s not a record that will dominate all the other latest records. It’s not an album that I would consider a milestone in music, and, broader, in whole popular culture. But it’s amazing and it… kinda changed Gorillaz. At least my feeling is that this record, even though it’s more pop, is much more serious then the previous ones.

Musically you can feel the influence of the 1980’s in, for instance, Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach – especially early electro and synthpop, New Order, maybe a bit of Bowie or even Prince? This track is, by the way, featured by Snoop Dogg and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, so this information can give you the taste of what it is like.

Albarn is also known to be influenced by ethnic music, in this particular case Arabic, which is clearly the foundation for amazingly sweet White Flag – a delicate, pure track, featuring (among others) the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music – it starts from a definitely traditional Middle Eastern intro, however, when it becomes electro/hip-hop it’s still very frugal and therefore full of air and space. It’s like wind or spider web. Very consequently built, constructed on few, simple melodic lines and, perhaps therefore, bright and deeply touching.

Rhinestone Eyes reminds of the older songs of Gorillaz. It’s a little funky and a little gloomy, with a little bored voice of 2D (Albarn) and synthesizers.

Some of the songs are definitely highlights of this album. My favorite include Some Kind of Nature (featuring Lou Reed) and Plastic Beach (feat. Mick Jones). And it’s not because it includes legends of rock music. They’re just really good, professional tracks which intelligently mix the musical character and personality of both of these musicians with the style and moods so typical of Gorillaz.

What is, however, most interesting is that Gorillaz somehow lost their comedian touch. I listened to this record a couple of times, continuously and I couldn’t stop thinking of factories, plastic, chemistry and… ecology. Yes! Somehow I had a feeling this is a voice of a modern person. Totally lost in his/her world, being aware of the fact that our natural environment is being destroyed every single day. And, no, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a Greenpeace fanatic. I don’t chain myself to trees or plot against scientists who make experiments on living animals. Nor is Plastic Beach moralist. It’s not a fairy tale for grownups. It’s not a fiery speech condemning the industry that pollutes the planet. The strength of this album is that all of the lyrics are pretty clear when it comes to meaning, however, they are still highly poetic. Metaphors and imagery that is presented in these songs have little to do with pro-ecology propaganda. It’s more like a sigh of sadness of a modern human being who eats artificial food out of a can, drinking artificial coffee, driving to work in a subway compartment with its anonymity and loneliness, and then sits in an office and performs work which is completely irrelevant, abstract and mechanical. It’s like a journey of a soulless man. Albarn is absolutely brilliant with this – his lyrics are not pushy, it’s more like a collage of different emotions and everyday observations. And therefore, even though musically this record is not genius (although very good), I think it’s one of the most interesting releases of this year, or even past few years. Different bands, different lyricists explore human mind and human life, many of them focus on the anxiety and obsessions of a contemporary human being. But, Mr. Albarn, I gotta give you this – something like this, so much connected with the reality of our lives, the reality that we easily forget about (cause it’s so much easier to notice pathology, crime, child abuse etc.), this has not happened yet. And in this sense I am not afraid to use a grand word – Damon Albarn is a poet of the ordinary. Which, by itself, I believe, is a very big compliment.

Београд-תל אביב

22 May

The newest album of Balkan Beat Box was recorded in Belgrade, Serbia and Tel Aviv, Israel – and this says enough about the music that you can expect. Blue Eyed Black Boy is a typical example of the band’s style – a mix of genres and different musical influences, from, most importantly, Balkan music (not only in the meaning of former Yugoslavian countries, but also a bit of Greece) and Middle Eastern music (Israeli and Arabian), through dub, reggae, even a little bit of hip-hop up until Latin American dances with the amazing Marcha De La Vida as a key example.

I don’t want to spoil the fun with saying too much about this release. You have to check out for yourselves. All I want to say is – the more you listen to it, the more you will love it, and if you listen to the whole album over and over again, you will find some amazing things during each listening. This record is like a rare, precious, although very powerful and strong object – there are always some new sounds to discover, sounds you didn’t hear when listening to it for the first time. The rythmic section and the brass section – are, as always, genius! And yes, you can say that it’s nothing that you haven’t heard from BBB but one thing is for sure – these guys know how to rock and, most of all, they’re extremely consequent with their musical choices, their genre (or, I should rather say: mixed-genres) of music and – what is most important – with the extremely high level of performing it.

Grab it, listen to it, love it! In fact, I am sure you will love it. And even if you’re not into this nerdy idea of listening to something and trying to solve the riddle hidden inside, you will enjoy it cause this album is just pure fun and amazing pleasure! As a teaser, my favorite song of the album: War Again.