. issue XIX : i .

by barathron

. artist : omar souleyman .
. album : wenu wenu .
. year : 2013 .
. label : ribbon .
. grade : b plus .

OmarSouleyman

Here’s the first studio album by one of the world’s most-recorded artists. Souleyman, a native of Syria currently living in Turkey, is the king of electronic dabke, a 21st century version of Syrian folk music where synthesizer replaces traditional instruments, beats are straightened out to four-on-the-floor, and tempos are frequently dialed up to 120 to 150 beats-per-minute. Something like 500 different bootlegged cassettes of his wedding performances are for sale in Syria; Sublime Frequencies has issued three brilliant compilations from them. For this first studio album, Omar enlisted Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) to produce. Smart man that he is, Hebden hasn’t changed Souleyman’s style at all; he’s cleaned the sound up a lot, added some presence and a few high-tech touches, but basically this is loud-and-clean, unadulterated dabke. The only thing missing is the electric saz (lute), but that’s a quibble. So if you loved the Sublime Frequencies compilations (plus 2011’s live-in-the-West set), you’ll love this one as well. If Omar is new to you, the title track “Wenu Wenu” is a perfect introduction to his sound, and “Warni Warni,” a Kurdish folk song (not that you’d ever guess), is the standout track.

by Bill Lupoletti

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