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Nawa: Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo

Not a long album, but potent.
Nawa
Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo
Electric Cowbell
2014-07-24

Ancient Sufi Invocations and Forgotten Songs from Aleppo is supposed to be the first in the Lost Sound Series, “a multi-volume series of rare field recordings” by Jason Hamacher, who was working with these musicians in Syria a few months before the civil war began in 2011. Today the Orthodox bishop who helped him has been abducted and the nine chorists of the Sufi group have fled. “Some guys were leather workers,” Hamacher said on NPR. “One guy was an architect.” Their swan song is a collection of ritual dhikr and poetic muwashahah in different modes, deep-toned, heaving sound-rivers, intended to open the mind of the devotee to the notion of a space that is edgeless, placeless, and filled with a unified presence. The secular primodialism of panting and humming has been reconfigured into worship. The mouth’s functions have been repurposed, or, if you prefer, respected. The act of breathing out — ha-hahh ha-hahh — is treated as seriously as it deserves. Not a long album, but potent.

RATING 7 / 10
PopMatters