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Album Review

Sabreen – "Death of The Prophet" – [Akuphone]

Ms. Conduct   10/26/2021   12-inch, International

Album cover of Death of the Prophet

Sabreen formed amidst the drama of political turmoil in 1980 as a collective of Palestinian musicians & artists interested in channeling the generational sentiments wrought from social strife and the hope of eventual conciliations. Death of the Prophet, originally recorded on cassette at the beginning of the first intifada (the insurrectionist rebellion of Palestinians against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank) in 1987 and was re-released in 2020 by the Akuphone label. 

This album blends traditional classical Arabic music with popular folklore:

—Barbed chords pluck misery from heaven as the larynx releases a white dove. 

—A sanguine calligraphy bleeds out an arsenal of poetry to wrangle the holy landscape.

—Ghosts send up a solemn prayer for peace that the usurpers hold mute.

The oud and the kanun instruments preserve echoes of their classical origins, but are adapted to modern composition with freer improvisation. Lyrics deploy sanctified words from the Palestinian poets, Mahmoud Darwish and Samih Al Qasem, imbuing this album with postcolonial righteous zeal.

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