Music Review//Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu
When we first heard Omar Souleyman it through that ever experimental and delightfully mad person we know as Björk. His remixes (Two of which appear on the remix album Bastards) still entrance us to this day and this new album from the Syrian musician is possibly the only good news originating from said region that you’ll hear today.
But this collection of music inspired by his own culture’s traditional Dabke genre and our own trance is something much more focused on his own specific meld of musical influences. Opener and title track Wenu Wenu may be repetitive but it’s very very listenable and if some part of your body isn’t moving involuntarily at some point we’d be surprised. Unlike most dance music created from artificial beats – this has an organic feel that is genuinely intoxicating. You aren’t just listening to beats – you’re listening to natural beats.
As the album continues you get the sense of a filmic journey through a very funky desert where the camels are throwing moves and not a single face is sans rire. It sounds an odd description for music so rooted in tradition but it’s true – this music is never less than captivating. Nahy takes it’s sound into more beats orientated territory and with those spoken, almost rap like (although they aren’t actually rap in the true sense of hip hop) vocals it’s something of a magical listen that liberates you from the concepts of what dance music should be.
If warmth is an indicator of quality then this is a record well worth your time – Souleyman may well be an artist with an underground following but it can’t really get bigger than that. This is the kind of album you’d have reservations about sharing with your musical kin for all the right reasons –it’s just too damned good to share! This is perhaps enshrined melodically on the addictive Khattaba, with its slower arrangement making it something of an example of less is more.
The beats are there, as is Souleyman’s distinctive vocal performance and instrumentation and it is hard not to love what you’re hearing. By this point the slower pace is welcomed as the fast pace of the album catches you easily in its wind strewn beauty. By the time we reach the extravagant finale of Yagbuni you know this is an experience to be reserved for the most open minded of your musical kin – but why not play it loud one evening and see just how many people inquire at the door just what it is you’re listening to. Your cool rating will surely go up a notch we’re sure…
Reviewed by C.Agent.