Tag: Bjork

New Audio: Omar Souleyman Releases a Mesmerizing, Club Banging, Love Song

Omar Souleyman is a Tell Tamer, Syria-born, Istanbul, Turkey-based Sunni Arab vocalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 1994 when began as a part-time wedding singer. His overall sound has largely been influenced by  the incredibly diverse milieu of Northeastern Syria — and as a result, Souleyman and a rotating cast of musicians and producers he has worked with since his early days have found a way to draw from and mesh the sounds and themes of the Kurdish, the Ashuris, the Turks, the Iraqis and the larger Arabic world in a way that’s both familiar and novel. Since then, Souleyman has become the region’s pioneer of dance floor friendly wedding music. 

Amazingly since 1994, Souleyman has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing well over 500 studio and live albums with about 80% of those releases made at weddings. Most of those recordings were first presented to the newlywed couple, and then later copied and sold at local kiosks. Now, as you may recall Souleyman has released four compilation albums and three full-length albums of original material: 2006’s Highway to Hassake, 2009’s Dabke 2020, 2010’s Jazeera Nights, 2011’s Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts and 2011’s Leh Jani,  2013’s Wenu Wenu, 2015’s Bahdeni Nami and 2017’s To Syria, with Love — and all of those albums have not only brought the sounds and grooves of the Middle East to the West, his recorded output has helped to expand the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist’s profile internationally. 

Adding to a rapidly rising international profile, Souleyman has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Paredes de Coura, a Caribou co-curated ATP Festival, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas, Bonnaroo, Roskilde Festival, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Pukkelpop Festival, Electric Picnic,  Treefort Music Festival — and oddly enough, one of the strangest House of Vans bills I’ve ever seen, in which he opened for Future Islands. And before I forget, he’s also collaborated with Bjork, contributing vocals for three remixes, which appear on an Biophilia.

Deriving its title for the Arabic word “how” or more literally “which color,” Shlon, which is slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Mad Decent/Because Music is the first batch of new material from Souleyman in a couple of years. The forthcoming album featres double keyboard work from Hasan Alo, a fellow native of the Hasaka region of Northeastern Syria, who has recently been active in Dubai’s vibrant nightlife scene, a well as saz work from Azad Salih, a fellow Syrian, who currently resides in Mardin, Turkey. The album also finds the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist continuing his longtime collaboration with Syrian-born, Turkish-based lyricst Moussa Al Mardood, who the wrote most of the album’s lyrics spontaneously during the recording sessions.

Unsurprisingly, his fourth album is vintage Omar Souleyman — 6 songs which mesh the dabke and baladi music of music beloved by the Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, the Kurdish and Iraqis with thumping, synth-led techno — but at its core, the material is comprised of swooning tales of devotion, adoration and love. Now, as you may recall Shlon’s first single was the propulsive, club banging “Layle,” which was centered around Alo’s dexterous and dense layers of synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking polyrhythmic beats and Souleyman’s imitable vocals. But at its core, the song is a slick synthesis of classically-inspired poetry and modern production.  The album’s second and latest single “Shi Tirdin,” which translates into English as “What Do You Wish For?” is a high energy, club banger featuring mesmerizing layers of synth arpeggios and thumping beats and fluttering synths. And while continuing the album’s overall vibe of meshing techno and dabke music, the track is a swooning declaration of devotion, in which the song’s narrator readily offers his love anything she wishes for. 

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New Audio: Internationally Acclaimed Omar Souleyman Returns with a Swooning, Club Banger

Omar Souleyman is a Tell Tamer, Syria-born, Istanbul, Turkey-based Sunni Arab vocalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 1994 when he was a part-time wedding singer. His overall sound has largely been influenced by  the incredibly diverse milieu of Northeastern Syria — and as a result, Souleyman and a rotating cast of musicians and producers he has worked with since his early days have found a way to draw from and mesh the sounds and themes of the Kurdish, the Ashuris, the Turks, the Iraqis and the larger Arabic world in a way that’s familiar and novel. In fact, Souleyman is considered the region’s pioneer of dance music/wedding music. 

Amazingly Souleyman has managed to be wildly prolific, releasing well over 500 stdio and live albums with about 80% of those releases made at weddings. Those recordings are first presented to the newlywed couple and then copied and sold at local kiosks. Over the better part of the last decade, Souleyman has released four compilations 2006’s Highway to Hassake, 2009’s Dabke 2020, 2010’s Jazeera Nights, 2011’s Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts and 2011’s Leh Jani and three full-length albums to the West, 2013’s incredible Wenu Wenu, 2015’s Bahdeni Nami and 2017’s To Syria, with Love –and all of those efforts have brought the sounds and grooves of the Middle East to the West, while expanding the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist’s profile internationally. Adding to a rapidly rising international profile, Souleyman has played sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Paredes de Coura, a Caribou co-curated ATP Festival, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas, Bonnaroo, Roskilde Festival, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Pukkelpop Festival, Electric Picnic,  Treefort Music Festival — and oddly enough, one of the strangest House of Vans bills I’ve ever seen, in which he opened for Future Islands. And before I forget, he’s also collaborated with Bjork, contributing vocals for three remixes, which appear on an Biophilia.

Dericing its title for the Arabic word “how” or more literally “which color,” Shlon, which is slated for a November 22, 2019 release through Mad Decent/Because Music is the first batch of new material from Souleyman in a couple of years. The forthcoming album features double keyboard work from Hasan Alo, a fellow native of the Hasaka region of Northeastern Syria, who has recently been active in Dubai’s vibrant nightlife scene, a well as saz work from Azad Salih, a fellow Syrian, who currently resides in Mardin, Turkey. The album also finds the Tell Tamer-born, Istanbul-based vocalist continuing his longtime collaboration with Syrian-born, Turkish-based lyricst Moussa Al Mardood, who the wrote most of the album’s lyrics spontaneously during the recording sessions. 

Unsurprisingly, his fourth album is vintage Omar Souleyman — 6 songs which mesh the dabke and baladi music of music beloved by the Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, the Kurdish and Iraqis with thumping, synth-led techno — but at its core, the material is comprised of swooning tales of devotion, adoration and love. “Layle,” Shlon’s propulsive, club banging first single is centered around Alo’s dexterous and arpeggiated synth work, layers of tweeter and woofer rocking polyrhythmic percussion and Souleyman’s imitable vocals. And while the track instantly reminds me of the sounds of my home borough — particularly Astoria and Jackson Heights — the song is centered around some gorgeous poetry,. describing a woman’s lips as sweet as the dates of Hillah, making the song a slick synthesis of the classic and the modern. 

New Video: Molina Releases a Feverish and Surreal Visual for Atmsopheric and Synth Driven “Parásito”

Rebecca Maria Molina, is an emerging Chilean-Danish singer/songwriter, electronic music artist and producer, who can trace the origins of her career to when she was eight. As the story goes, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based Molina began writing her own music, inspired by the music her mother frequently played for her, including Bjork, Kate Bush and Royksopp. “I remember wanting the Basement Jaxx’ Rooty album for my birthday at the same age as I was dancing to children’s music.” Molina recalls.

When Molina was in her teens, she furthered her musical education by searching the corners of the Internet and following a trail of like-minded bands and artists, eventually becoming obsessed with the work of Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, 70s-80s new wave and punk , shoegaze and the work of Miharu Koshi and Mariah among others. Unsurprisingly, all of those disparate sounds and styles have influenced the Chilean-Danish artist’s work. 

With the release of her debut EP Corpus, Molina received attention internationally from BBC Radio 6, Beats 1 Radio, The 405, The Line of Best Fit and countless others for a songwriting approached that openly embraces experimentalism — but while sonically drawing from late 70s and early 80s synth pop. Building upon a growing profile across Scandinavia and elsewhere, Molina has released three singles “Mike” “Venus and “Hey Kids” off her highly-awaited, forthcoming sophomore EP Vanilla Shell that have not only established her as a unique voice in the alternative pop scene, but have also received attention from a number of media outlets across the globe, including Gorilla vs. Bear and Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber, who highlighted “Venus” among the best tracks of this year. 
Slated for a January 24, 2020 release, Vanilla Shell finds Molina weaving layered vocals, string and flute arrangements and fretless bass into a synthetic universe, frequently characterized by inventive and challenging song structures, catchy melodies and brooding production. “Parásito,” Vanilla Shell’s latest single is centered around layers of ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals, a chilly, motorik-like groove with warm bursts of organic instrumentation — primarily strummed, acoustic guitar, fluttering flute and wobbling fretless bass lines. Sonically, the song is an exploration of the contrasts between hard and soft and the organic and the synthetic that will draw comparisons to Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. But thematically, the song focuses on two familiar emotions — that mix of longing and absorption for another that makes it feel impossible to get as close to that person as you’d want and the desperate, intense urge for that person that makes you feel as though you were a parasite, as though you couldn’t survive without them. In other words, it suggests that love can be kind of parasitical and confusing. 

“Parásito,” is the first song of Molina’s career written and sung in Spanish and interestingly when she wrote the song, she felt a deeply inherent power and energy than in either Danish and English. “I feel Spanish amplifies my message,” Molina explains in press notes. “The drama in the language makes it easier and more natural for me to be an extrovert and emotional.” 

While being a decidedly 80s-era MTV inspired visual, the recently released video possesses a surreal and feverish air that emphasizes the song’s longing at the song’s core. 

New Video: Copenahgen’s IRAH Releases Aching and Nostalgic Visuals for “Cinematic”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based duo IRAH, and as you may recall, with the release of 2016’s mini-album Into Dimensions, the duo, which is comprised of Stone Grøn (vocals) and Adi Zukanović (keys) quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a unique take on atmospheric pop that’s ethereal yet earthy. 

Slated for a May 24, 2019 through Tambourhinoceros Records, the Danish duo’s forthcoming Mads Brinch Nielsen and IRAH-co-produced full-length debut Diamond Grid was written in between tours across Europe, features renowned drummer Seb Rochford, who has toured with the band, playing drums on all but one track — the album’s gorgeous Kate Bush and Junip/Jose Gonzalez-like first single “Unity of Gods,” a track that was centered around a sparse yet propulsive arrangement of twinkling keys, hushed  drumming, and ethereal and plaintive vocals singing lyrics about seeking oneness. Diamond Grid‘s second single was the Kate Bush meets Bjork-like”Siu Hinama,” which featured Grøn’s primordial chanting ethereally floating over atmospheric synths and propulsive drumming — and while continuing in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor, the track manages to evoke an ancient tribal ritual.

“Cinematic,” Diamond Grid‘s third and latest single is centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement featuring shimmering keys, hushed drumming and Grøn’s plaintive vocals, the aptly titled song possesses an achingly plaintive quality.

The Sarajevo, Bosnia-born, Copenhagen-based Zukanović and his family fled to Denmark, when the bloody and brutal Balkan War broke up. At the time, Zukanović was 4. Interestingly, in the refugee center’s playroom, a young Zukanović found a small keyboard and quickly discovered the power and tranquility of music. As an adult, Zukanović is one of the most sought-after keyboardists and pianists in Denmark — and he has arranged music for several Danish symphony orchestras.

Directed by Jakob Steen and Samina Bazai, the recently released video primarily consists of home video footage that Zukanović and his family shot during his first years immigrating to Denmark and his first trips back to Bosnia after the war. While imbued with an inconsolable loss over the people and homeland that he will never have again, the video brings the consequences of war and time directly to the viewer — in particular, a war that now seems both distant and yet somehow relevant. “We dove into the picturesque colors of the VHS tapes, and deliberately tried to listen to, and understand, the material, rather than manipulating it, or making it more aesthetically appealing, the video’s directors explain in press notes. “We tried to follow the song’s own logic and inherent narrative structures, as well as the associative connections between the sound, imagery and words.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Rich Aucoin Releases a Gorgeous and Meditative Visual for “The Mind”

Over the course of the past year, I’ve written a lot about the Halifax, Nova Scotia-born and based singer/sgonwriter, electronic music producer, electronic music artist, indie rock musician and JOVM mainstay Rich Aucoin. And as you may recall, Aucoin spent time as a guest musician in his older brother Paul’s band Hylozoists before developing a reputation as a solo artist in his own right with the release of his debut EP, 2007’s Personal Publication, a concept effort written as an alternative soundtrack to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Personal Publication EP was also the first of an ongoing series of collaborations with charitable foundations, as he supported the EP with a cross Canada tour made entirely by bicycle to raise money for Childhood Cancer Canada. After completing his first solo tour, he went on to join his brother’s band while they were on tour; however, Aucoin suffered a debilitating iron deficiency that cut his time on  the tour short. But once he recuperated, Aucoin went on the road again, running partial marathons between tour stops to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. During both of those early tours, the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, electronic music artist, electronic music producer and indie rock musician spent time writing the material that would eventually comprise his full-length debut, 2011’s We’re All Dying to Live, an effort that featured over 500 guest musicians, including  Sloan‘s Jay Ferguson, You Say Party‘s Becky Ninkovic, The Meligrove Band‘s Michael Small and Rae Spoon. Adding to a rapidly growing profile. the album was long-listed as a nominee for a Polaris Music Prize — and the video for “Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.” won a Prism Prize in 2013.

Building upon a growing profile, the Nova Scotian producer and electronic music artist released his critically applauded sophomore effort, 2014’s Ephemeral. Several years passed before the release of last year’s Hold EP, and with singles like the sprawling and propulsive “Release”, the swooning M83-like “The Middle,” the jangling guitar pop meets synth pop  “The Fear.” and the slow-burning and wistful “The Dream,” the EP further cemented Aucoin’s reputation for crafting slickly produced, infectious and thoughtful pop.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Haven Sounds, Aucoin’s third full-length album  Release was co-produced by the Halifax-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music producer, electronic music artist and indie rock musician and drummer Joel Waddell. Inspired by the work of David Bowie, Holly Herndon, Fatboy Slim, Bjork, John Lennon, Future Islands, Caribou and Chic among others, the album finds the JOVM mainstay further cementing his growing reputation for his own unique blend of organic and electronic instrumentation — while thematically, the album finds Aucoin grappling with mortality, by using Alice in Wonderland as a metaphor for life’s journey. 

“The Mind,” Release’s first single is a pulsating instrumental track is centered around a slow build up of increasingly textured sounds including arpeggiated synths, chopped up and ethereal vocal samples and propulsive drumming that finds Aucoin drawing from drum ‘n’ bass and Kraftwerk-like minimalism before an explosive conclusion. “This track is about the mind and therefore has no lyrics,” Aucoin explains in press notes. “Musically, this song has two drum sets on it. The main kit is played by Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks) and the second is carried over from the Release session by Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff. Ben Talmi played the very rare Therevox slide theremin on the track down at his Virtue & Vice Studio in Brooklyn. While Jenn Grant was recorded by Daniel Ledwell at his Echo Lake Studio in Nova Scotia. The vocal melody seamlessly switches from male to female vocals with Jenn and my voices being the samples.”

Directed by Meghan Tansey Whitton, the recently released video follows a mysterious and otherworldly figure covered in a metallic blanket, striding on a beach at sunset and as the video progresses, the figure is subjected to the elements, facing them with a preternaturally zen-like calm. 

With the release of 2016’s mini-album Into Dimensions, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based  duo IRAH, comprised of Stone Grøn (vocals) and Adi Zukanović (keys) quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a unique take on atmospheric pop that’s ethereal yet earthy. 

Slated for a May 24, 2019 through Tambourhinoceros Records, the Danish duo’s forthcoming Mads Brinch Nielsen and IRAH-co-produced full-length debut Diamond Grid was written in between tours across Europe, features renowned drummer Seb Rochford, who has toured with the band, playing drums on all but one track — the album’s gorgeous Kate Bush and Junip/Jose Gonzalez-like first single “Unity of Gods,” a track that was centered around a sparse yet propulsive arrangement of twinkling keys, hushed  drumming, and ethereal and plaintive vocals singing lyrics about seeking oneness. The album’s second and latest single, the Kate Bush meets Bjork-like”Siu Hinama” features Grøn’s primordial chanting ethereally floating over atmospheric synths and propulsive drumming — and while continuing in a similar vein, as its immediate predecessor, the track also manages to evoke an ancient tribal ritual. “Siu Hinama occurred through vocalistic sound meditations,” Grøn explains in press notes. “The song never felt right with lyrics and therefore we decided to just let the words or word-sounds be as they were.”   

 

Live Footage: Acclaimed and Up-and-Coming Austrian Artist Inner Tongue Performs “2 Seconds”

Inner Tongue is the (mostly) solo recording project of a rather mysterious Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer and musician, who grew upon an intensely musical home — his father is a saxophonist, who constantly wrote songs, so musical instruments were always lying around and his parents frequently shared their favorite albums with him; in fact, Inner Tongue formed his first band when he was 6. “We started out using one of my dad’s synths to play a pre-programmed beat,” he recalls. “I’d sing something that sounded to us like English.” Unsurprisingly, the Austrian artist, who cites Bjork, Moby, Portishead, Micheal Jackson, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, Pet Shop Boys, Aphex Twin, and The Cure’s The Cure In Orange as influences — although those influences don’t quite correspond to his own sound and songwriting approach continued playing and writing music, playing in a small number of bands, including one that had briefly worked with Duran Duran and David Bowie’s producer before getting dropped by their label. 

Interestingly, with the release of some of his earliest solo work, the Austrian artist quickly garnered comparisons to James Blake, Childish Gambino, Frank Ocean, Death Cab for Cutie, Sohn, and Chet Faker/Nick Murphy. His quietly released yet critically applauded 2015 debut EP Tz Ka allowed him to open for the likes of Ghostpoet, Everything Everything and others. The Vienna, Austria-based singer/songwriter, composer, and musician’s full-length debut Favours was released earlier this year, and interestingly, the album’s overall sound and thematic concern is inspired by a deeply personal yet remarkable story. Back in 2013, Inner Tongue was diagnosed with a rare vocal-cord disorder that was so severe that only a handful of specialists throughout the entire world were capable of treating it; but eventually his condition required surgery, which left him, for a time unable to talk. Understandably, the months that followed the surgery were emotionally and physically shattering but he began composing music again.  At the time, singing was out of the question and as the Austrian singer/songwriter, composer and musician says in press notes, “I decided to modify my musical focus temporarily by writing songs which could produce a melodic tension without vocals, but which featured the traits of forward-looking pop music. It was as if someone had pressed a resent button on the musical identity I had of myself.” Adds Inner Tongue, “I used to layer many sounds and melodies before, and felt like I hid the core of any idea behind that technique.”

Some of the Austrian artist’s full-length debut was made at home with most recorded in a friend’s stood in Vienna. Foals’ John Catlin, who collaborated with him on his 2015 debut EP assisted once again although his involvement varied throughout; however, as Inner Tongue says, Catlin “was continually involved as a producer and friend,” who also mixed the album with some further overdubbing where necessary. As the Austrian artist readily admits, the entire experience of writing and recording his full-length debut provoked ” “a lot of soul searching, trying to become a better mixing engineer and producer. I’m somewhat controlling when it comes to my music, and I need to get the little details right.”

However, unlike his debut EP, Favours was more of a collaborative effort, as he shared his ideas with a collective of very dear and close friends. “All contributions are built on a vision I initially had and then gain shape during the process,” Inner Thought says. His live backing band contributed much of the music with his father playing sax on “New York.” The live version of “2 Seconds,” Favours’ latest single features a sparse yet soulful arrangement centered around twinkling Rhodes piano keys and Inner Thought’s achingly tender vocals, which manage to express a plaintive, vulnerable need. It’s a delicate, sensitive yet incredibly sexy song that balances earnest emotion with deliberate attention to craft.