Beirut-based outfit Sandmoon — Sandra Arslanian (vocals, guitar), Sam Wehbi (guitar), George Flouty (bass) and Dan Shurki (drums) — have developed and honed a unique take on indie rock that draws from the Arslanian’s multicultural, international background: the Sandmoon frontperson is Armenian-Lebanese and was born in Beirut and spent her formative years in Belgium.
Throughout their growing catalog, which includes 2014’s full-length debut, Home, 2016’s #InTheEnd EP, 2018’s Put A Gun/Commotion EP and 2020’s Fadi Tabbal-produced sophomore album Put A Gun/Commotion, the members of the Beirut-based quartet have infused Western indie rock with subtle Middle Eastern intonations and melancholy and an unerring sense of melodicism.
Adding to a growing profile in Lebanon, the band wrote the soundtrack to Phillipe Aractingi’s 2016 film Listen, which received Best Soundtrack Award at 2017’s Lebanese Movie Awards.
Sandmoon’s Sandra Arslanian has also been very busy with a number of side projects including “Odyssée, Ode to the City” with poet Corinne Boulad, which has been selected in festivals in Beirut, Germany, Italy, Greece and California — and has won Best Spoken Word Poetry Award at the Monologues & Poetry International Film Festival.
Sandmoon’s highly-anticipated third album While We Watch the Horizon Sink is slated for release later this year. The album’s first single, the slow-burning and atmospheric “Wake Up” is centered around painterly and shoegazer-like textures: twinkling synth arpeggios, slashing, reverb-drenched guitars, Arslanian’s plaintive vocals, cinematic keys paired with a soaring hook. While the band describes the song as sounding “like a crossover of Radiohead and Laura Marling with an imperceptible Middle Eastern flavor,” the song sonically to my ears recalls shoegaze titans like Cocteau Twins and Slowdive.
The band explains that the song is “about looking beyond the surface, going to the essence of things.”
Directed by Selim Mourad, the accompanying video for “Wake Up” is shot in a gloriously cinematic black and white and captures small every day details — a woman and her child folding laundry on the terrace, clothes in the spin cycle of a washer before following what appears to be a religious cleansing ceremony, complete with women patiently whispering comforting things.
“I believe suffering stops when we open our eyes,” Mourad explains. “As most of us keep struggling, we can rest assured that we are nonetheless never unattended, never alone. Beautiful beings, often through their feminine energy, are patiently whispering the sweet words of remembrance in our ears.”