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BACHIR SFEIR // Bande à Part Session // 13 Nov 2007

Don’t Border me est né officiellement le 9 juin 2007,  à Montréal, grace aux efforts des journalistes Christelle Franca et Serge Abiaad. Le projet s’intéresse aux musiques et la création faite où les frontières géopolitiques sont trop rigides; là où la circulation des individus, des idées et d’une information honnête est aussi complexe qu’essentielle. Pour ses premiers pas, Don’t Border me a souhaité donner la parole à la musique libanaise actuelle.

Bachir Sfeir, animateur radio sur “La Voix du Peuple” et chroniqueur culturel au journal “Al-Akhbar”, était l’invité de l’émission Décalages, sur 96.2FM. Dans le cadre du projet Don’t Border me/Bande à Part, il donne un bref aperçu (faute de temps!) de la scène musicale libanaise orientale.

Ecouter:
bande-a-part-bachir-sfeir-13-nov07-part-1
bande-a-part-bachir-sfeir-13-nov07-part-2
bande-a-part-bachir-sfeir-13-nov07-part-3
bande-a-part-bachir-sfeir-13-nov07-part-4


bap

Review // Lebanon’s Alternative Music Scene // Version 1

[This article was written for and published by PRIME JORDAN MAGAZINE in 2007]

Despite the traces and scars of numerous battles and confrontations, the city of Beirut manages to this day, as the song goes, to “shake itself up, dust itself off, and start all over again”… This constant state of rejuvenation is found in various walks of Lebanese life, but more so in the fields of art, and especially that of music.

The city of Beirut and its neighborhoods are alive with the sounds, sonorities and tunes of hundreds of musicians, moving at ease between different styles and categories, from traditional workouts to oriental jazz, from rap to punk, and from dance-floor electro to more nuanced strands of electronica…

In a city famous from its happy blending of cultures and influences, Lebanese bands also operate a mixture of genres: Soapkills’ explosive cocktail of traditional Arabic music and electro has made them the best-known duo of the Middle Eastern Underground, and one of its finest exports. Their first album, Bater, features outstanding contributions from local jazz musicians Rabih Mroué (flute) and Walid Sadek (trumpet).

The Soapkills’ main man, Zeid Hamdan, is also a towering presence on the rock scene, as guitar player with the New Government. The latter are the true dandies of the Lebanese rock scene. Coming from different musical backgrounds, the perfect synergy these five musicians create has already resulted in the New Government Strikes album, which combines great melodies and subtlety with punk energy and style. Flashes of British ‘60s psychedelia (Kinks, Small Faces) abound, interspersed with modern flourishes.

In another corner of the rock ‘front’, stand the Scrambled Eggs. By far one of the most interesting alternative rock bands operating in Beirut today, the Scrambled Eggs’ music is dark, strange and fascinating, and provides the perfect soundtrack to post-war Beirut.
Over the course of 3 albums, and then some, the band has managed to create its own distinctive sound, a fine mesh of guitars and noises, pushing to the extreme the search for harmony in chaos.

Jawad Nawfal knows a great deal about the fine line(s) between harmony and chaos. Not content with his status as Beirut’s first and foremost Drum&Bass/HardTech DJ, he has created an alter-ego for his more ‘restrained’ musical ventures, under the moniker Munma. The band’s first release, 34 Days, is a set of 6 electro-ambient tracks, featuring minimal beats, ominous vocal samples, and a rich tapestry of interlocking, layered sounds. 34 Days recalls the ethereal, hushed moods of Warp label artists such as Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin at their ambient best; with an oriental twist, added for good measure.

Last but not least, Beirut’s rap scene is filled with various luminaries: Ashekman, RGB, Kitayoun, Katibe Khamse, and of course Rayess Bek… Wael Kodeih (aka Rayess Bek) single-handedly created the Lebanese rap scene in the ‘90s with his band Aks’ser. They’ve been growing ever since, and released their first full-fledged album on major label EMI in 2006. Wael’s solo project Rayess Bek has allowed him to deal with more serious issues; he raps about social, economical and political problems: the corrupt government of his country, a society on the brink of collapse, and disoriented youth.

Ziad Nawfal


[Photo of Malek Rizkallah, drummer with Scrambled Eggs, by Ziad Nawfal]

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Review // Scrambled Eggs // Happy Together Filthy Forever

[December 2006]

In July 2006, as another edition of the Lebanese-Israeli war raged around them, Lebanese rockers Scrambled Eggs went into the studio to mark down on record their most abrasive and violent set yet. Gone are the moody and introspective ramblings of their 3 previous albums, as the Eggs aim straight for the jugular in this short set (5 tracks) of angry and scorching punk nuggets, which bring to mind both the recent experimentations of Sonic Youth and the rash energy of early Pil and Cure.

The album also includes a remix of the track ‘Bleeding Nun’ by Lebanese electronica artist Munma.


LISTEN:

Audio 1: Bleeding Nun

Audio 2: Johnny Anti-Christ


Review // Munma // 34 Days

[December 2006]

Although this is his first CD release on the Lebanese market, Jawad Nawfal has been active on the local dance scene for a solid number of years, under a variety of guises (AEX, Ae_quo, etc.). ’34 Days’ is a set of 6 electro-ambient tracks, featuring minimal beats, ominous vocal samples, and a rich tapestry of interlocking, layered sounds.

The album was recorded during Israel’s attacks on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, which explains to some extent the overall sombre and introspective mood of the tracks. At times, ’34 Days’ recalls the ethereal, hushed moods of Warp label artists such as Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin at his ambient best; with an oriental twist, added for good measure.


LISTEN:

Audio 1: Yaqiin

Audio 2: Qana


Ruptures Radio Show // Zündfunk Edition // Aug 2006

Ruptures ‘Zündfunk Edition’, Radio Lebanon 96.2FM (August 2006)

It took me some time to post this radio program, but the thing is, well… I lost it. Blame it on the time I had recorded it, and the circumstances surrounding that time, but I simply forgot to label it, and it was buried amidst a compact mass of similarly non-labelled CD’s. Hell, I tell you… But in any case, now it’s here, in its full and pristine form….

In May 2006, German radio Zündfunk contacted me to produce a radio program, approximately 80 minutes long. Zündfunk is the “young” radio show of Bayerischer Rundfunk, which is the Southern branch of German Public Radio (i.e. something like the German version of the BBC).

The show, due for broadcast in the summer of 2006, was meant to be a music program, i.e. a radio DJ mix hosted in English by myself, presenting information on bands, DJs or projects relevant to the underground musical scene of Lebanon, as covered by Radio Lebanon.

When the war with Israel started raging in the summer of 2006, at the time when the program was meant to be sent to my German correspondents, it (the show, and the music contained therein) took on a whole new meaning and dimension, evidently, and became a real labour of love for me. This was my homage and tribute to the young musicians whose music kept me going during these dark days.

Sending the CD’s to Europe was an accomplishment in itself, one I must thank Serge Abiaad for… Cheers to him, as well as all the bands and artists featured in these 80 minutes.

Listen:
ruptures-german-edition-august-06-part-1
ruptures-german-edition-august-06-part-2
ruptures-german-edition-august-06-part-3


Track listing:
AEX
Lumi
White Trash Bubblegum
The New Government
Soft Panic
April Ash
Scrambled Eggs
La Chambre
Ae_quo
Blend
Scrambled Eggs
Soapkills
Karma
Rima Kcheich
Nadine Khouri
Ziad Saad
The New Government
Aks’ser
Kita’a Beirut

Ruptures Radio Show // JOHN PEEL Tribute // 2004

Ruptures ‘John Peel Tribute’ (6+13 December 2004)

Some days after the untimely passing of renowned BBC Dj and musical mastermind John Peel, my friend and colleague Roger Rahal and myself joined forces to put together and co-host a series of radio programs dedicated to the great man, a personal icon and reference of ours (and to countless others, I’m sure).

Included in the track listing of these shows were some of the bands and artists Peely discovered, with interpretations of tracks taken from his infamous ‘Peel Sessions’, recorded in the BBC Studios in Maida Vale, London. Our personal way of thanking the great man for years and years of fantastic musical discoveries!


Track listing (December 6):
Faust
Can
Neu!
The Damned
Buzzcocks
Slits
Stranglers
Wire
Siouxsie & The Banshees
The Cure
Gang Of Four
Undertones
The Ruts
Stiff Little Fingers
Joy Division
Au Pairs

Listen:
ruptures-john-peel-tribute-6-dec04-part-1 + ruptures-john-peel-tribute-6-dec04-part-2


Track listing (December 13):
Au Pairs
Echo & The Bunnymen
New Order
The Fall
Birthday Party
Associates
Redskins
The Smiths
Go-Betweens
Jesus & Mary Chain
That Petrol Emotion
Half Man Half Biscuit
Wedding Present
Clan Of Xymox
The Fall
House Of Love
Inspiral Carpets
Loop

Listen:
ruptures-john-peel-tribute-13-dec04-part-1 + ruptures-john-peel-tribute-13-dec04-part-2


johnpeel

BLEND // Interview // 19 Jan 2004

As their first album release, ‘Act One’ (EMI Records) hit the stores in December 2003, Lebanese rock band BLEND were invited to the studios of Radio Lebanon 96.2FM to discuss their musical itinerary, the making of the album, and the difficulties of making it solely as a musician in Lebanon’s unforgiving, commercial-oriented music business.

The various members of the band who were present in the studio that evening (singer Jad Souaid, guitarist Miran Gurunian, drummer Jad Aouad, and producer/manager Philippe Tohme), also presented a selection of some of their musical favorites.

Listen: ruptures-blend-19-jan04-part-1 + ruptures-blend-19-jan04-part-2


Track listing:
Blend *2
The Beatles
Blend
Led Zeppelin
Radiohead
Blend *2
The Tea Party
Blend *2


blend-1