Jeezo. Next time I’m taking the Justin Bieber single. At least then I can just write “pish” and be done with it. But no, I keep picking the stuff that’s incredibly hard to write about as I have no frame of reference. Arabic music doesn’t normally feature heavily on my stereo. I just about typed the word melismatic. I had to Google it first to check what it meant (hypnotic and trancelike apparently).
As tricky as this is to write about, there is some stuff I can make sense of. The backbone of this album is drones and repetition, something I’m particularly fond of anyway. Melismatic vocals (yeah, I went with it anyway) drift in on the back of traditional Arabic instruments like the Buzuk and Zurna. But this isn’t an Arabic folk record, there’s electronics and synths sneaking in there; field recordings floating through the notes and enough drones to keep the CIA happy.
The whole record is coated in both Arabic and middle-east influences - despite calling Quebec home, Beirut and Lebanon still loom large in the mind of founder Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. He spends a few months a year back there. As a result, this is music that drips with a determination to be heard on its own complex terms. It is fucking righteous.
In saying all this, there is a touch of the familiar on Mo7it Al-Mo7it. Radwan has been a major player on the Montreal scene for a few years now, not least due to his part ownership of Hotel2Tango. It’s this tone and feel that is familiar, particularly to fans of other Constellation bands who may have recorded with him.
Apparently Jerusalem In My Heart only play once or twice a year and each show is completely different from the last, blending the trademark drones and chants with film and additional loops. This here record is a mere document of the ideas which formed around the project; it’s an exciting glimpse into a transient project that we’d otherwise lose, and for that we should be thankful.
Mo7it Al-Mo7it is released on 19 March through Constellation Records