Music Monday #4: Arab Fusion

This week’s Monday Mixtape brings you something very special. Fusion songs from the Arab world. Though the word fusion is very popular in the world music scene, we at the Mezrab think it only works when it’s not a bad fit between two different styles but when it creates something new and intense. When you listen to a song and can’t imagine it’s components ever having been separate that’s the type of fusion music that works.
Anouar Brahem / The Astounding Eyes of Ritax
When Tunisian Oud player Anuoar Brahem learned everything there was to learn about Arabic classical and folk music his thirst for musical knowledge was not satisfied. He immersed himself in Jazz and over the years created his own delicate sound. Contemplative and enchanting, enjoy one of the masters of the Oud.
Rabih Abou-Khalil / Tsarka!
Also mixing his Oud with Jazz is the virtuoso Rabih Abou-Khalil. Where Anouar frequently looks for fragile beauty in his music, Rabih is masterful at mixing the power of Jazzy and Arabic Rythms and dazzling melodies.
Ibrahim Maalouf / Beirout
Ibrahim comes from an incredibly talented family. He’s the nephew of the great Lebanese writer Aamin Maalouf and his own father designed the 4-valve trumpet, an instrument that allows the player to play the oriental “quarter” notes not found on most regular European instruments. Ibrahim plays Classical, Jazz, Hip-hop, you name it, but when he incorporates his oriental roots in his music he really grabs you by the heartstrings. The song Beirout was inspired by a trip back to his home town and still seeing the scars of war. Take your time to listen to this song and dream away with the clip that accompanies it, all the way to the powerful climax.
Tinariwen / Chet Boghassa
Though many Touareq artists would object to being included in a list of Arab artists, it would be a shame to skip the funky tracks of Tinariwen in this week’s Mixtapes. The music is born out of ancient songs and rythms of the nomads of the Mali, Algeria, Libya, mixed with a healthy dose of American Rythm and Blues coming back to its African roots. The discovery of Tinariwen had a funny effect, record labels suddenly were looking in all these countries for any nomad with an electric guitar or bass to sign up on their label, and while some of the “newly discovered” funky nomads don’t sound too bad, none beat the original Touareq musical rebels.
Souad Massi / Le Bien et le Mal
Musically Souad Massi is not as innovative as the previously mentioned artists, but when someone sounds as good as she does there’s no need to be. What she delivers is a pile of great songs written for guitar and her angelic voice. Her music is also very much connected to the old Mezrab, where Mama Mezrab would often put on her CD on quiet days.
Bendaly Family / Do you love me?
Saving the best for last, this one is a bit of an internet sensation: the Lebanese Bendaly Family. They mix their Arabic Schlager with beatles era rock ‘n roll. I don’t really know what else to write that does justice to the brilliance of this song. Just listen to it, it will brighten up your week!

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