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On Deck: Jerusalem In My Heart

By ; March 7, 2013 at 6:45 AM 

Jerusalem In My Heart_1

Jerusalem In My Heart, or JIMH if you like, is the musical alias of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese musician who has spent much of his adult life in Quebec and has over the years completely embedded himself in the independent music community of that city. Combining a love for music and the visual arts, Moumneh interweaves contemporary Arabic and electronic music “with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space.” And as such, his often elaborate stage shows are rarely if ever similar and use the various imbalance oftentimes inherent between the audio and visual spectrums to completely engage and envelope the listener.  His debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7it is set to be released on March 19th via Constellation Records and it marks the first official time that he has tried to translate his frenetic live show to a studio recording.  Melding traditional Arabic melismatic singing with experimental electronic compositions, the songs that unfold and sprawl across his debut create a cautious and otherworldly atmosphere–at time displaying a bracing sense of emotional and intangible intimacy. In the lead up to the album’s release, Moumneh sat down and wrote about some of his favorite records for Beats Per Minute.  Drawing from classic Arabian artists like Sabah Fakhri and more experimental artists like Clara Mondshine (and a good deal of everything inbetween), his influences are as varied and disparate as his own music.  Check out his picks in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Lena Platonos
Lena Platonos – Γκάλοπ

She has such a complex understanding of song structure, use of electronics and a sensibility that is beyond words, yet somehow amidst all that, she creates very catchy songs that just transpose you to the middle white sea. So unbelievably under-rated and under-appreciated genius.

Ja'fer Hassan
Ja’afer Hassan – Let’s Sing Together

From the back of the LP (hand written with a pen in Arabic and English):
“Ja’afer Hassan is a progressive Iraqi singer who uses songs as a means to express people’s joyness, victories and sadness… He sings for the toiling masses, thus giving his songs a new spirit. He is considered to be one of the first young Iraqi singers who devoted their songs to serve the mentioned themes”. Communist folk rock from 1978, one year before Saddam Hussein came to power. It’s hard to imagine the circumstances that such a record was made under, and what members of the communist party had to endure post 1979. Rarely do rock music and Arabic lyrics work together. This is an exceptional exception.

Sabah Fakhri
Sabah Fakhri – Soirée avec Sabah Fakhri

From Aleppo, Syria, this man is a testament to the absolute meaning of ‘tarab’; the ecstasy one attains from modern classical Arabic music. Epic poetry (called muwashahat & qudud) that originate from the region. He sings with such authority and conviction. His unsurpassed talent comes from the delivery and his conveying of emotion in singing the poetry, along with his rapport with the orchestra whom react to his ornamentation, cadence and trilling. Recorded live, which is the only way to capture this style of music, as the audience and singer feed off each other to create a dialog, giving you a small taste of the ecstasy the audience (and singer) are experiencing. I really hope to see him live before he stops performing.

Clara Mondshine
Clara Mondshine – Luna Africana

The only LP I own that blows my mind played on 33 1/3 AND 45. I digitized it on both speeds, and listen according to my mood. Hyper creative modern electronic compositions using analog synths. Beyond words, how happy this record makes me. Very moving piece of music, and massively influential on my own compositions. He/she made 3 albums before ending his own life.

Khalil Ghamkin
Khalil Ghamkin – Mawawil

I bought this cassette when I was in Syria just before the uprising started. He is a buzuk and saz player, and like most of the music I like, composes modal pieces that are conversational between instruments and voice and always accompanied by drones. All sung in Kurdish (from Syria though), he represents an immensely beautiful part of our Middle-Eastern culture that, due to politics, is suppressed repeatedly. Absolutely beautiful… it reaches right inside and touches the heart. And the production values are outstanding. If I were to wish my records to sound like anything, it would be like this.

Be sure to head over to the Constellation Records website to pre-order a copy of Mo7it Al-Mo7it, which is due out on March 19th.

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