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Souleyman, Omar – “Highway to Hassake : Folk and Pop Songs of Syria ” – [Sublime Frequencies]

Thurston Hunger   1/18/2007   CD, International

Thank Allah and tell Jehovah the news, we’re lucky to have such Sublime
ambassadors! This time Mark Gergis visits Syria and the results quicken
the pulse. If you remember “I Remember Syria” than you already may have
a little Omar in your soul. His troupe delivers a brand of dervish techno
that spins and swirls in your brain; the overdriven keyboards of Rizan
Sa’id sound somewhat like a bionic bagpipe. How does solid state wheeze?
Other tracks trickle with brittle oud (like “Atabat” which features an
almost reggae stoniness to its rhythm as well.) As always, the whole
package merits attention with this label, the liner notes are stellar,
they fit with the images of Omar having the words breathed into his ears
by lyricist Mahmoud Harbi. There is a great shot where you can see through
Omar’s opaque glasses and make out his eyes widened and white, as if the
illumination has spread like fire from word through his mind and is about
to be ignited via his voice for the audience. If you want to slow things
down a bit, check out “Jalsat Atabat” with killer kamancheh by Lazgin
Khaled or the impassioned pleading (vocally and instrumentally) on
“Bashar Ya Habib al Shaab” four minutes of pure power before getting into
a more soothing groove. Wow! According to Gergis, on “Toul Al Zeenah”
Omar asks god to keep his keyboardist Rizan with him, it’s a good thing
’cause I could see the Underground Resistance trying to sign Rizan to a
Detroit 3-record release deal. Further reasons to worship the sublime
prankster gods of the Sun City!

-Thurston Hunger

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