Soft power

During the past twelve months, I become enamored with Middle-Eastern music who now wears many clothes, from electro to Queen-esque Arabic music.
Since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some offerings!

It seems that the best way to fight against the rampant islamophobia is to emphasize the beauty of the culture, and blend it with modern tunes. Youth will follow, and eventually replace the old patriarchy that has plagues so many Muslim countries.

Never underestimate the healing power of music
– Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon

Acid Arab is a French DJ band who mixes Arab tunes with electronic music. Their mix at the Sonar 2016 is an absolute masterpiece, blending fantastic rythms with melodies rarely heard in electronic music.

Mash’rou Leila is a Lebanese band, extremely popular in the Middle-East. It is very varied, and the singer Hamed Sinno has a Freddie Mercury-like persona, and brings lot of poetry. Shim El Yasmine is a song that talks about the odor of the jasmine of his partner at the time, who went on leave him to marry a woman, because society wouldn’t understand that love is love…

A week before I went to see them live at Slim’s in San Francisco, the band had been banned from el-Sisi’s Egypt, where people in the audience raised rainbow flags…

Cantique des cantique by Rudolphe Burger is my favorite song of 2017 (though it was recorded in 2014.) It is an interpretation of the Song of Songs, one of the most beautiful piece of poetry in the Judeo-Christian corpus.
The song is in French and Hebrew, and it’s absolute bliss.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.

Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

Ibrahim Maalouf is a French-Lebenese trumpetist. His album Diaspora is one of my favorite, and he’s done many very interesting collaboratons since.

The Blaze is a French band. It is not Middle-Eastern, but their music video for “Territory” is chilling, a reminder that we leave in a world of deeply unequal opportunities.