Jerusalem In My Heart
Ben Shemie (of Suuns), Sontag Shogun
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is all ages
Jerusalem In My Heart
Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) returns with Daqa'iq Tudaiq, the third full-length album from the Montréal-Beirut contemporary Arabic audio-visual duo, following the acclaimed 2015 release If He Dies, If If If If If If (year-end lists at The Wire (#39), The Quietus (#24) and A Closer Listen (Top 10), among other accolades). Featuring voice, electronics, buzuk and other instrumentation from composer-producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Matana Roberts, Suuns, Big Brave) and abetted by the 16mm analog film work of Charles-André Coderre in live performance, JIMH continues to expand the horizons of its profound conceptual and aesthetic engagement with Arabic/MiddleEastern traditions. Daqa'iq Tudaiq translates as “minutes that bother/oppress/harass”—which presumably needs no further explanation—and features two distinct album sides of music.
Side One realizes a long-held dream of Moumneh’s to record a modern orchestral version of the popular Egyptian classic “Ya Garat Al Wadi” by the legendary composer Mohammad Abdel Wahab. JIMH assembled a 15-piece orchestra in Beirut, enlisting the celebrated Montréal-Cairo composer Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush) as arranger and musical director for the session. Anchored by the stately hypnotic pace of mallet and percussion instruments (riq, santur, derbakeh, kanun), the piece unfolds with lush, languid, reverb-drenched manoeuvrings through virtuosic Maqam shifts (Oriental scales). Moumneh’s melismatic lead vocals and electronic production sensibility pay homage to the genre’s documented historical recording traditions, while pushing things subtly and respectfully into new territories of sonic distortion and noised, artefact-laden transmission. The song’s original title (with lyrics penned in 1928 by the poet Ahmad Shawqi) translates as “Oh Neighbour Of The Valley”, but JIMH takes a different line from the original lyric as the new title for its orchestral-electronic re-interpretation. “Wa Ta'atalat Loughat Al Kalam” (“The Language Of Speech Has Broke Down”) is an expression of wordless love and transcendent communication between two lovers’ eyes in Shawqi’s poem; JIMH re-titles the song with this line, exploding the sentiment with more complexity, tragedy and socio-political meaning – also prefiguring the formal aesthetic ruptures JIMH bring to the piece itself. Love in a time of politics, politics in a world conspiring against love, and the specificity of Arab diasporic experience in our brutish 21st century.
Side Two comprises four tracks of non-ensemble “solo” material by Moumneh which push rupture and decomposition/recomposition of tradition further into avant-garde territory – voice, buzuk and electronics take the lead on a suite of emotive and evocative songs, including the percussive loopdriven instrumental “Bein Ithnein” (“Between Two” ) and the stunningly unsettling processed vocal track “Thahab, Mish Roujou', Thahab” (“(The Act Of) Departing, Not Returning, Departing”).
Daqa'iq Tudaiq is a masterful, mesmerizing artistic statement and confirms Jerusalem In My Heart as one of the most engaged and forward-looking avant-Arabic projects at work in contemporary music today. Thanks for listening.
Ben Shemie (of Suuns)
Hailing from Suuns, Canadian Ben Shemie offers up his first solo work, ‘A Skeleton’ - an experimental pop album of cold synthetic sounds with touches of psychedelia.
Based on his live, itinerant experiments, the whole album was recorded in a single take with no overdub. Shemie has left traces of the atmosphere of each recording space, adding an element of chaos and unpredictability alongside his masterful/dexterous manipulation of the equipment.
The voices and instruments sound as if they were drawn from a not-too-distant future in which artificial intelligence has taken over human life and mutated into an artist. The album recounts the random wanderings and metaphysical rêveries of a skeleton - the fantasy muse of the machine, devoid of sex or race, a neutral entity.
The refined, minimal sonic narration is executed with astonishing precision and sensitivity. With ‘A Skeleton’, Shemie has definitely painted us a refreshing avant-garde picture.
Sontag Shogun (Brooklyn, New York) is a collaborative trio that makes use of analog sound treatments and nostalgic solo piano compositions in harmony to depict abstract places in our memory. Textures built from organic materials such as sand, slate, boiling water, brush and dried leaves, both produced live in performance and recorded to weathered 1/4" tape warm up the space between lush piano themes. All of which is abstracted coolly in the reflective digital space of treated vocals and a live-processed feed from the piano. Bringing us back, like a faded passing scent or any natural emotive trigger, but to where? The wordless journey there will inevitably be more revealing than the destination itself.
Ian Temple, piano, organ
Jeremy Young, tapes, oscillators, contact mics
Jesse Perlstein, laptop, field recordings, voice
Sontag Shogun has shared the stage with notable artists such as Hauschka, Julia Kent, Matana Roberts, Oren Ambarchi, Aki Onda, David Grubbs, Tom Carter, Ben Vida, Fly Pan Am, Greg Fox, Christopher Bissonnette, Hans Appelqvist, Chris Forsyth, Mountains, Sam Shalabi, Noveller, Helena Espvall, Christopher Tignor, Ben Vida, as well as many others..