ABOUT THIS ITEM
A hypnotic collection of electrified Syrian dabke dance cuts from the southern region known as the Houran -- issued here for the first time in the West. - Heavy beats and polyrhythms, labyrinthine synths, swirling sound effects, compelling vocals, and the shrill drone and buzz of the amplified mejwiz -- a legendary double-reed instrument played throughout Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.
All material culled from Dabke cassettes and discs recorded during the 1990s- 2000s. Second LP release on the Sham Palace label. Limited pressing of 1,000. Sham Palace is the label of Mark Gergis - compiler of numerous Middle Eastern and South East Asian collections for the Sublime Frequencies label since 2003 (Choubi Choubi - Folk And Pop Sounds From Iraq, I Remember Syria, Cambodian Cassette Archives, Saigon Rock And Soul, Erkin Koray - Meçhul, etc). Gergis discovered Omar Souleyman in Syria during a 1997 Syrian trip, and is responsible for eventually introducing Omar and his group to Western audiences via four Sublime Frequencies albums and extensive international touring. He also arranged and produced Omar's collaborations with Björk in 2011.
Dabke is the celebratory music and dance found throughout the Levantine Middle East. By the mid-1990s, a new wave of high-energy electronic dabke music had emerged - to be heard at weddings, parties and cassette-stalls region-wide. New wave dabke was first introduced to Western ears by way of Omar Souleyman and his northeastern Syrian sounds. This collection presents a hypnotic and diverse selection of electrified dabke dance cuts from a region in the south of Syria known as the Houran. The Houran refers to a swathe of south Syria and northwestern Jordan, beginning just below Damascus, and encompassing the Syrian cities of Daraa, Suweida, Bosra and the Golan Heights. Its populations include Syrians, Bedouin, Druze, Palestinians and Jordanians - and this unique confluence of cultures is evident throughout these tracks. Hourani dabke is relentless and commanding, driven by heavy rhythms and weaving synthesizers. Long passages of intense musical fervor are punctuated by fierce male vocals, belting out calls for the audience to dance, alongside the lyrical laments and tributes to love and lust. But the sound of the Houran is best defined by the mejwiz -- a double-reed bamboo flute famed for its droney overtones as well as shrill, buzzing melodic lines achieved by circular breathing techniques. Historically, Hourani dabke was played with mejwiz, hand percussion and narrative vocal chants. Electronic beats have inevitably embellished the contemporary sound, magnifying the intensity -- and the mejwiz players have taken their craft to the microphone, in order to maintain the instrument's prominence over the resulting volume. The sampled mijwiz sound has its own specific qualities and in recent years, can even be heard in combination with its organic counterpart. The recordings featured in this collection were captured live to the mixing desk during weddings and parties throughout the Houran during the 1990s and 2000s, and represent a mere sliver of the sounds found in tape and disc vendors throughout the region.