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Archive for the ‘Boaz Yakin’ Category

jerusalemSOUNDTRACK: JERUSALEM IN MY HEART-If He Dies, If If If If If If [CST114] (2015).

ififif Since 2005, Jerusalem In My Heart has been Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (all music) and Charles-Andre Coderre (all visuals).  This is only their second album, however, because they were always more of a live band.

Obviously there’s no real visual component to the record.

Since I don’t know all that much about this band, I rely on the Constellation records website for my information.  Thus:

Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan’s expressive acoustic playing on buzuk as a point of departure.

The album’s first song “Al Affaq, Lau Mat, Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau (The Hypocrite, If He Dies, If If If If If If)” opens the disc with a short piece of processed vocals.  The Arabic traditional voice is mildly auto-tuned which sounds kind of cool.  [FROM CST: One of Moumneh’s finest melismatic a cappella vocal performances].

Track 2, “A Granular Buzuk” is a 7-minute instrumental piece of Moumneh on buzuk with pulsing electronic background music.  [CST: the buzuk is processed, re-sampled and otherwise disrupted through Radwan’s real-time custom signal patches]. As with a lot of this record, pretty instrumental passages are interrupted and taken over by noise—this time a kind of mechanical scratching.  It ends with some quietly ringing percussion as the electronics all slowly drift away.

“7ebr El 3oyoun (Ink From The Eyes)” is a vocal track with an electronic drone.  It sounds traditional and mournful, but about 3 minutes in, a drum and buzuk keeps time and the song grows a bit more upbeat.  [CST: languidly plaintive vocals set against a gradually accelerating riff underpinned by hand percussion].

“Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa (To Me He Said Enough Enough Enough Enough Enough Enough)” has incredibly loud static with a buzuk playing in the background.   After a minute and a half the static drops away and the background is filled with a quiet pulsing kind of static.  You can finally hear the instrument being played in all its glory.  [CST: a scabrous white noise intervention wherein the entire audio mix is fed through a contact mic placed in Radwan’s mouth].

“Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz (What If The Hijaz Was Enough?)” is mostly synth–again an old sound with metronymic electronic percussion and quiet vocals. It’s all kind of muffled and very retro.  [CST: Moumneh continues to channel his love for Arabic pop and Casio/cassette culture with this silky lo-fi dance].

“Ta3mani; Ta3meitu (He Fed Me; I Fed Him)” is a faster piece.  Echoed vocals and drones rest behind a fast buzuk melody.  [CST: he pays homage to the until-recently-exiled Kurdish poet and singer Sivan Perwer on this traditional-minded, unadorned folk tune].

“Ah Ya Mal El Sham (Oh The Money of Syria)” opens with a loud vocal and a flute mirroring the voice.  It runs for seven-minutes and ends quietly.  [CST: a tour-de-force drone piece built from Bansuri flute (performed by guest player Dave Gossage)].

The disc ends with “2asmar Sa7ar (The Brown One Cast A Spell),” a fast buzuk solo played over the relaxing sounds of oceans waves.  It has a cool melody and runs quickly and then calmly for some five-minutes before the disc ends with more waves lapping against the shore.  [CST delicate acoustic number set against the sound of waves recorded on a beach in Lebanon].

As with the previous record, song titles employ the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting, which I think is pretty cool.

[READ: March 30, 2016] Jerusalem

With a title and subtitle like that you know this isn’t going to be a fun and lighthearted story.  And it is not.  The introduction explains how this is the story of a family, but it is more about the land and the strife that has been there for generations.

A lengthy history of Jerusalem is given, but for the purposes of this story the most recent action is the 1929 dispute over prayer rights which led to riots.  And then the British imposed the White Paper of 1939 which blocked Jewish immigration and was in place as the Nazis were riding to power. This led many Palestinian Jews to regard the British as hostile. And yet many Palestinian Jews joined the British army to fight the Nazis in Italy and the Middle East.  At the same time there were underground forces of Palestinian Jews who were attacking the British.

The action of this story takes place in 1945.

There is also a history of the Halaby family about whom this story is concerned.  Yakov Halaby was born after a series of girls were born in his family.  His father vowed that if they had another son they would move to Jerusalem.  After Izak was born they did so.  But Yakov was jealous from the start.  And he made Izak’s life miserable.  Eventually Izak left and married an Egyptian woman and they both moved back to Jerusalem. (more…)

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marathon SOUNDTRACK: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD-Tiny Desk Concert #528 (May 2, 2016).

8thEighth Blackbird is described as a “new music ensemble” from Chicago.  That means they play classical music that is new and “different.”  The sextet says that looking at each other–being able to communicate–is essential for playing these complex pieces, which calls for an interesting arrangement behind the Tiny Desk.

The first piece is actually two pieces called “Wave the Sea” and “Brushy Fork” from a suite called Murder Ballads by Bryce Dessner (better known as being in The National) .  The piece opens with a flute solo by newest member Nathalie Joachim, and then some complex series of notes and timings from the rest of the band–this is cerebral music that you must really pay attention to.

“Pulse,” from Robert Honstein’s three-movement Conduit is a much more gentle piece, far less frenetic and more mellow. It opens with Matthew Duvall’s vibraphone, Yvonne Lam’s violin, Lisa Kaplan’s piano and Michael J. Maccaferri’s clarinet which all seem to get added in one at a time until it is all just one consistent piece.  Nicholas Photinos’ cello offers some low end while the flute seems to float above the whole piece.  The song seems like it could just keep going forever as a very slow, beautiful round.

The final piece is by David Lang (an artist they have played for many years).  “learn to fly” returns to that frenetic tempo of the first piece .  Opening with wild syncopated piano notes (it looks impossible to play) and added to by the flute, clarinet and cello.  And just when you think the whole piece will remain in this style of complex syncopation, a violin solo bursts forth and soars for a few bars before returning to the melody.

I don’t listen to a lot of classical music, but I really enjoyed this Concert a lot.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Marathon

While overall I have really enjoyed the First Second books that I’ve read, this one I found really confusing and not exactly enjoyable.

The story begins in 490 BC.  Unbelievably it says the temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit (but sure, why not).  A man is running from Athens to Sparta (distance 153 miles).  Then there’s the confusing title: Athens: Twelve Years ago. Which I assume means 12 years before 490 BC–where we see some young boys racing.  Eucles won the race.  It is shocking to everyone that he is the son of a slave.  The slave defeated the Kings “own bastard son Phillipus.”   And so the King cuts off Phillipus’ head.

When he fails a test shortly thereafter, Eucles’ parents are executed.

Yup it’s that kind of story.

The king is Hippias.  He is exiled soon after the events of 12 years ago. (more…)

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