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Various Artists

Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran

(Sham Palace; US: 2 Apr 2013; UK: 1 Apr 2013)

The dabke is a Levantine line dance. It will incorporate as many people as you like—big masses sweating through their shirts. Step, kick, stomp - in unison, holding hands, human electricity feeding through the palms—step kick stamp. The inlay says that these recordings were “captured live [in Syria] during weddings and parties throughout the Houran.” So you’re at a wedding, you’re making a massive noise, the music on this album, then, is also making a massive noise, the mejwiz double-reed flute bucks like a python cut in half, the drum boom-booms, many of the singers do everything at a shout-volume even when the lyrics, translated, are tender. “Some say that love is a game, but it turns out that it brings pain and sorrow to the heart” is not a love-ballad croon, it’s a yell over a crowd, the singer perhaps craning forward over his keyboard to reach the microphone. A live singer on “Mili Alay” quiets down but only so that the recorded squeaky sample voices sound louder. The crowd is inaudible on these recordings yet the musicians themselves, by working to overpower the crowd, include its presence.


Tagged as: dance | mejwiz | middle east | syria
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