Two discs here. Not for the sake of one long album, but for the sake of two different albums in the same package. Disc one wears a dolorous black turtleneck: sombre piano plus throbbing loud deep drums and an unaccompanied vocal performance from Oumima Khalil on “Mohammad” which is the highlight of everything—the delicacy of the control and the strength of the voice are good beyond description.
Disc two is a soundtrack to someone’s triumphant movie, a big tympani rolls up a hill and two choirs go on a march. The instruments understand their role conventionally: they accompany, the voices sing. Darwish (1941 - 2008) was a Palestinian people’s poet, a homeland poet, respected and prolific. He wrote about earth, plants, food, houses, meetings and the memory and forgetting things associated with those things. I can see that he suits disc one. Disc two feels like Khalifé‘s self-reference to part of a speech he made as he was receiving the title of Artist for Peace from UNESCO in 2005: “Be the voice of protest to old wounds that never healed. Be a roaring anger, magnificently composed ...”.
// Notes from the Road
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