Review // Munma // Unholy Republic

[April 2009]

MUNMA: UNHOLY REPUBLIC (Incognito, 2009)

The third official release by Lebanese electronic artist Jawad Nawfal sees him revisiting familiar themes and musical landscapes, while displaying the possibility for some radical departures in the near future. ‘Unholy Republic’ is the third installment of what is commonly referred to as the “Fate trilogy”, one that saw the day in the aftermath of the war waged by Israel on Lebanon in summer 2006. The first two releases, ‘34 Days’ and ‘Black Tuesday’, were marked by ominous moods and atmospheres, sets of menacing clicks and glitches, and a random selection of radio samples and speeches that conveyed brilliantly the mind-set and feelings of the artist, regarding the crisis at hand.

‘Unholy Republic’ picks up where ‘Black Tuesday’ left, with a rambling, brooding track haunted by static, radio noise, and some politician’s vehement preaching. This is followed by two tracks of subdued electronica, reminiscent of Munma’s previous releases. ‘Engram’, in particular, nods prominently towards South American musician Murcof’s output for the Leaf label. The rest of the album is more surprising, as Munma’s recent partner-in-crime, Nabil Saliba aka Trash Inc, enters the fray, and contributes his supple synth-enhanced melodies to ‘Broken Chime’ and ‘Deep Down Inside’. These show a different facet of Munma’s talent, and serve as a timely reminder that Jawad Nawfal is equally at ease devising ambient landscapes and dancefloor “stompers”. ‘Unholy Republic’ concludes on a short, ambient postcard entitled ‘Exodus’, signalling in the process the end of the “Fate trilogy”, and prefiguring realms of possibilities for Munma’s subsequent works.


LISTEN:

Audio 1: Engram

Audio 2: Deep Down


(2008 end-of-year lists) – JAWAD NAWFAL

I asked the main actors of this here blog (mostly musicians, of course, but also friends, family, support-givers…) to provide me with a list (5 to 20 albums) of their favorite records of the year.

The results are slowly coming in. There are surprises, resemblances, similarities, incongruous choices… I’ve left the responses intact, exactly as I received them, along with my friends’ comments. So here goes:

Jawad Nawfal: musician, DJ, producer (Munma, AEX, Ae_Quo)

Sunken Foal “fallen arches”
Eero Johannes “lipton service boy”
Vibert & Simmons “rodulate”
Last Step “1961”
Portishead “third”
Benga “diary of an afro warrior”
Distance “repercussions”
Apparat “things to be frickeled”
Somatic Responses “digital darkness”
Larvae “loss leader

Review // Munma & Trash Inc. // Live at B018

[September 2008]

Neither Jawad Nawfal (aka Munma) nor Nabil Saliba (aka Trash Inc.) is new to live venues or performing in front of a crowded audience. Jawad has taken his AEX and Munma formations to various venues in Lebanon (the Basement, Club Social, the Byblos Festival…), as well as abroad, while Nabil Saliba’s previous drumming duties with Franco-Lebanese rock band New Government also induced its fair share of live performing… but neither one of them was quite ready for this.

The atmosphere at B018 that night was quite different from anything the boys had witnessed before, or anything this famed dance venue had come to present its audience. As it slowly filled up, there was a general feeling of anticipation, of eager expectation, good humored and friendly, regarding this live electronic/dance concert, these two bands’ first in B018 . And those patient enough to wait for them to take the stage at 3am, were not disappointed.

Dj Caroline started warming the crowd at 2am, and had a hard time getting a grip on the venue’s rugged equipment, seeing that the available CD players had presumably been taken to hell and back by previous hard-hitting hordes of DJ’s, both local and foreign. She played a decent set, consisting mostly of breaks and electro-house, until Munma and Trash Inc. were urged to take the stage by an impatient crowd. From the beginning, they established the tone of the proceedings: an insistent, pumping electronic beat filtered through the speakers, giving them free rein to layer swathes of intricate loops and sounds. Nabil on synths and laptop-operated machinery, Jawad on yet another set up of computers and machines meshed and mingled a vast array of sounds, ranging from house-ish beats, minimal glitches and clicks, to synthesized riffs straight out of 80’s and 90’s early dance productions. They even threw in some vocals in the mix, to the general delighted disbelief of their fans and friends, now filling B018 to the brim.

Listen to the concert by clicking on the following link: munma-trash-inc-live-b018

As their set proceeded, the boys scaled some unexpected heights, even for those of us who had become habituated to their oblique musical directions. They created a dense, compact core of beat-based reverberation, allowing them to geneerate a vast array of intricate sounds, which were then looped back and forth, then layered again to create a bright, shining sound-mass hovering between breaks, electro, and hard hitting tech-house.


JAWAD NAWFAL // Bande à Part Session // 19 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.

Cinéaste du son et maître des machines, Jawad Nawfal a fondé Altered Ear, un laboratoire de recherche et de composition sonore assistés par ordinateur aux ramifications multiples : Ae_quo (expérimental), AEX (electro live), et Munma (oriental soundscape). Au croisement des disciplines multimédia, il collabore aussi régulièrement avec des réalisateurs et des artistes visuels, avec le Liban en bruit de fond.

Dans le cadre du projet Bande à Part/Don’t Border me, Jawad a soumis un soundscape (ou paysage sonore, un format qu’il affectionne particulièrement),  deux photographies, et a présenté sur Ruptures 96.2FM une émission ayant pour sujet la scène électronique libanaise.

Ecouter:
soundscape-jawad
bande-a-part-jawad-nawfal-19-nov07-part-1
bande-a-part-jawad-nawfal-19-nov07-part-2


sous-le-pont

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cover-34days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


La ville en chantier

Beyrouth est une ville étrange.

Les chantiers y sont incessants.

Je découvre sans arrêt de nouveaux bâtiments

surgis du néant là où, quelques jours auparavant,

il n’y avait qu’un vieux dépôt désaffecté,

un terrain de foot, une bâtisse croulante.

Les rues muent et se transforment au fil des

semaines, sans que personne ne semblent

vraiment s’en étonner.

En Juillet 2006, le pays a été l’objet

d’une vaste offensive militaire Israélienne.

Des quartiers entiers et de nombreux boulevards

de la capitale ont été détruits.

Ceci a évidemment eu pour conséquence la

recrudescence des chantiers en ville.

Aujourd’hui, Beyrouth est grise de poussière,

elle respire le béton et le métal rouillé.

Et même si le pays vit un cauchemars politique et

économique récemment, le chantier urbain est

intransigeant. Le métal et le béton règnent,

incontesté, déterminés, et rien ne semble pouvoir

les ralentir dans leur lourde progression.

Je les entends souffler, gronder et grincer.

Les sons que j’ai traités et mis en scène,

ces masses sonores fluctuantes, sont à l’origine

des bruits capturés sur des chantiers et ailleurs,

pas loin de là où j’habite. Je les ai pesés,

décousus, et taillés. Je les ai modulés

et transformés, tel un nouvel alliage secret.

Je leur ai donné une nouvelle voix.

Ainsi, vous aussi, vous pourrez peut-être y entendre

les lamentations fourbes de la ville en fusion.

Jawad Nawfal