so this omar souleyman guy (RFI, RFD)

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Track 1 from the Sublime Frequencies CD, "Omar Souleyman- Highway to Hassake: Folk and Pop Sounds of Syria"

An excerpt from the track "Leh Jani" taken from cassette.

Omar Souleyman - vocals
Rizan Sa'id - Keyboard/Rhythms
Mahmoud Harbi - Poetry
And an unknown saz player

thomp, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:46 (nine years ago) Permalink

"Mahmoud Harbi is a long-time collaborator and the man responsible for much of the poetry sung by Souleyman. Together, they commonly perform the Ataba, a traditional form of folk poetry used in Dabke. On stage, Harbi chain smokes cigarettes while standing shoulder to shoulder with Souleyman, periodically leaning over to whisper the material into his ear. Acting as a conduit, Souleyman struts into the audience with urgency, vocalizing the prose in song before returning for the next verse."

thomp, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:48 (nine years ago) Permalink


am0n, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:49 (nine years ago) Permalink


rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:51 (nine years ago) Permalink


admrl, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 16:56 (nine years ago) Permalink

love this shit, jealous that the UK gets to see him and we don't.

ian, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

I know! Fuckers!

admrl, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

(seriously, though)

admrl, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

that sublime frequencies tour has moved on to other parts of europe now:













Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:30 (nine years ago) Permalink

the album is rilly rilly good.

scott seward, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:34 (nine years ago) Permalink

but you all probably know that by now.

scott seward, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:35 (nine years ago) Permalink

I love the two CDs. The new one is even weirder than the first.

They're both carefully curated by Porest / Mark Gergis from dozens of cassettes. Evidently many of the original cassettes are less songs than two neverending workouts, 30 minutes a side, Fela style. The CDs are edited like pop concentrates but I hope there's a chance for some of the cassettes to start turning up somewhere soon.

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:37 (nine years ago) Permalink

^^^ would love to hear those. and yes the sf releases are both amazing

psychgawsple, Wednesday, 10 June 2009 17:50 (nine years ago) Permalink

The wronger you spell his name, the more clips you find

StanM, Friday, 12 June 2009 21:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

(that square dance thing they do is called Dabke , hence his second album's name, btw)

StanM, Friday, 12 June 2009 21:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

been listening to this constantly

admrl, Friday, 12 June 2009 21:25 (nine years ago) Permalink

Jens Govaert (Belgium) wrote
at 13:11 on 04 June 2009
Looking forward to his performance in Belgium this saturday.. DABKE!!!

Mathias Kostlin (France) wrote
at 14:05 on 31 May 2009
I've just seen him at Villette Sonique. This guy is fat. It was brilliant.

admrl, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 04:26 (nine years ago) Permalink

would rock keyboard dude's jacket in first vid

what u arrestin me for, innit (╓abies), Tuesday, 16 June 2009 07:39 (nine years ago) Permalink

BTWS were playing him the other night; he must be good.

::tongue in cheek::

no, it sounded great.

Violent In Design (Masonic Boom), Tuesday, 16 June 2009 08:59 (nine years ago) Permalink

tbh it doesn't stand out from other dabke stuff i hear. And I hear this music a lot coz my gf's parents are Lebanese and every party you go to, all they play is this kind of stuff. I was telling some of my girlfriend's cousins about souleyman and they were totally not interested because he's Syrian O_o

wilter, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 09:08 (nine years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

the cultural elite in Syrian were apparently perplexed by the Sublime Frequencies guys were so enraptured by Omar Souleyman, calling him "taxi driver's music"

Lansob Sherek is an anthem. Dancefloor mayhem.

Tannenbaum Schmidt, Thursday, 2 July 2009 13:00 (eight years ago) Permalink

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Tannenbaum Schmidt, Thursday, 2 July 2009 13:01 (eight years ago) Permalink


Tannenbaum Schmidt, Thursday, 2 July 2009 13:01 (eight years ago) Permalink

dear ilx poster wilter, please tell me the names of some other dabke stuff i can hear via the internet

thomp, Thursday, 2 July 2009 14:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

saw him live a couple of weeks ago. Party vibes.

the shock will be coupled with the need to dance (jim), Thursday, 2 July 2009 15:20 (eight years ago) Permalink

eight months pass...

give me more taxi driver's music plz
i am so so looking forward to seeing this guy jam the fuck out

forksclovetofu, Tuesday, 9 March 2010 05:58 (eight years ago) Permalink

This is kind of related:

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 20 March 2010 05:25 (eight years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

New Omar album right about now: Jazeera Nights

StanM, Monday, 10 May 2010 19:09 (eight years ago) Permalink

UK tour starting tomorrow:

StanM, Monday, 10 May 2010 19:13 (eight years ago) Permalink

I guess he cannot get a visa to tour the US. His prior UK tour never came here either. The US is now allowing some Cuban musicians again to tour here but not Syrian ones I guess.

curmudgeon, Monday, 10 May 2010 19:47 (eight years ago) Permalink

no, he's playing the US.
We got him for SummerStage in Central Park, NYC on June 26 with Tinariwen and Toubab Krewe.

₣õ®₭§©₤¤∵釰ƒü (forksclovetofu), Monday, 10 May 2010 20:28 (eight years ago) Permalink

Can you bring him to W. DC too, or is he coming here already?

curmudgeon, Monday, 10 May 2010 20:49 (eight years ago) Permalink

ha, i'm just the pr guy. i know they're working hard on his visa.

₣õ®₭§©₤¤∵釰ƒü (forksclovetofu), Monday, 10 May 2010 21:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I heard Omar Souleyman for the first time 2 nights ago. Jazeera Nights.

"Mandal/Metel Il Sukkar Ala Il Shai (I Don't Know/Like The Sugar In The Tea)", or as it's known in my household, "that 8th track", is pretty much the jam of all time. It's slower than most of the other songs of his that I've heard (admittedly I've only heard less than 1/500th of his total output, which is apparently over 500 releases), but when he goes "heh-heeey!" and the booty bass drops in, holy shit.

Come along, we shall dine at an expensive French restaurant. (Z S), Sunday, 27 June 2010 22:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

bummed that extra time in the usa game yesterday kept me from seeing omar at central park. anyone see him?

mizzell, Sunday, 27 June 2010 23:36 (seven years ago) Permalink

Here's a writeup of his Chicago gig and some tour issues

curmudgeon, Sunday, 27 June 2010 23:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

i was at the summerstage gig with whiney g; it was good? maybe not as good as I wanted it to be? The crowd was not sure how to handle it. world cup kept the crowd light (maybe 2500?) and they were mostly there to see what the deal was so dancing was minimal. In a club, he would've destroyed. Great voice but it was just him walking around on a giant stage with two guys on synthesizers. needed a light show... though near the end a bellydancer from queens came on and started shakin'.

obvious and old and bannable (forksclovetofu), Monday, 28 June 2010 01:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

He ruled in Detroit at the Arab American festival. Yet another reason why it's so awesome that Detroit has such a huge arab american population, beyond all the great restaurants and grocery shopping.

filthy dylan, Monday, 28 June 2010 01:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

just heard this guy for the first time a few weeks ago. Had planned to go to issue project room tonight but had family situation. friend said it was great though.

hills like white people (Hurting 2), Monday, 28 June 2010 04:29 (seven years ago) Permalink

A buddy of mine was at that festival in Detroit. Sounds like fun.

Trip Maker, Monday, 28 June 2010 04:31 (seven years ago) Permalink

he fucking ruled Chicago. but then again, he played in a little slice of Grant Park just off Michigan Avenue. Great crowd, everyone was into it and dancing, young and old. just a perfect scene all around. sucks that the New York gig apparently didn't go off so hot, oh well, that's New York right? you guys take everything for granted. Chicago fucking loved him. rapped a bit with Alvarius B, who was manning the merch. good times

Stormy Davis, Monday, 28 June 2010 05:09 (seven years ago) Permalink

While revered as a legitimate pop star in his native Syria, his bread and butter remains large wedding commissions, where, in accordance with local tradition, he extemporaneously extols the bride, the groom, and their families, usually with humor and awareness of regional current events. His recorded oeuvre is largely made up of cassette releases of these performances, financed by the family of the married couple to bring further glory to their name through cassette sales.

I actually never knew this. "Taxi driver's music" is such a great insult / compliment (delete as appropriate)!

A prog venn diagram for you to think about (Matt #2), Monday, 28 June 2010 16:08 (seven years ago) Permalink

When he play the West?

Cool Fetus (admrl), Monday, 28 June 2010 16:10 (seven years ago) Permalink

Thought this was interesting, as was Alan Bishop's response in the comments.

hills like white people (Hurting 2), Monday, 28 June 2010 16:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

Wish he had done more US dates than just Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and 2 NY City shows.

curmudgeon, Monday, 28 June 2010 16:30 (seven years ago) Permalink

In response to this article:

I enjoyed the article and agreed with what it had to say, but this paragraph:

These types of statements compounded with a tendency for the “Western listener” to understand music on his/her terms and a refusal to accept that music can serve a variety of purposes in different cultures, makes me even more doubtful that music has the capacity to function as a “cultural bridge” of any sort. Listening to music for pure enjoyment is fine, but no one should claim that it brings them closer to understanding a culture.

...seems a little off, especially considering when he played the Arab American fest here, there were huge circles of all sorts of middle eastern people mixed with all sorts of hipsters all dancing together. I don't know if everyone was coming closer to understanding each other's culture, but it still seemed to have more power than this author gives creedence.

filthy dylan, Monday, 28 June 2010 16:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

both the article & the responses make for really good & interesting reading

get your bucket of free wings (underrated aerosmith albums I have loved), Monday, 28 June 2010 17:16 (seven years ago) Permalink

Was at both Central Park and Issue shows. Issue (BK) show was best for me because he played in a small courtyard where the reverb made everything sound like it was coming out of minaret loudspeakers. Kind of fuzzy and slightly distorted but amazing sounding. Plus there was a nice crowd dancing thruout the show right in front of the stage so the energy level was kept up. Central Park crowd by the stage seemed to dig the awful opening jam band much more and were mostly confused it seemed.

¿Can Your Gato Do the Perro? (Capitaine Jay Vee), Monday, 28 June 2010 17:28 (seven years ago) Permalink

both the article & the responses make for really good & interesting reading

agreed. Before the European tour last year, Omar & his band had never left the region.

sarahel, Monday, 28 June 2010 19:23 (seven years ago) Permalink

xp - I don't know about the profits/financials for Sublime Frequencies, but I am familiar with how much money and time Mark, personally, invested in Omar and promoting his work

Less-offensive uses of puto/puta (sarahell), Wednesday, 23 October 2013 23:38 (four years ago) Permalink

All I heard was blah blah blah..

Damo Suzuki's Parrot, Wednesday, 23 October 2013 23:42 (four years ago) Permalink

look if you want to make assumptions based on superficial cynicism, go ahead, but it's pretty stupid to maintain those assumptions when someone is telling you that they actually know the truth.

Less-offensive uses of puto/puta (sarahell), Wednesday, 23 October 2013 23:56 (four years ago) Permalink

nb, tl;dr below, may be strawmanning, had a bunch of ideas and a bong and decided to combine the two so plz insert ymmv, imho, idk what i'm saying here as appropriate:-- I don't want to argue that there aren't complexities in recontextualizing a syrian wedding singer for a western popular audience, but why does raising this discussion always seem to skew towards negative interpretations? "exotic" seems to connote a kind of fetishized otherness, as though souleyman were being commodified. the guy of course is already always 'commodifying' himself - he supports his family through playing music professionally, first in weddings and now for hip western record labels. moreover tho it's not like his popularity is this rough, depersonalized exotic figure - i think his coming over has been very centered in the context of his original performances. his audience knows this was originally wedding music, they know his story, and bc of current foreign events they might even know more about syria than they've ever known. also tho, i feel like we don't bat an eyelid when western music is removed from its context and dispersed to non-western countries. we even assume that this expected - either bc of our dominant western aesthetics (lolz, jk) or bc the west is an economic hegemon. but music always has this loose porous relationship between communities; in some aspects souleyman is colonizing a western audience. he's being appreciated as an artist and that is exactly what he is.

Mordy , Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:02 (four years ago) Permalink

agree with that

stylings (Matt P), Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:13 (four years ago) Permalink

I distractedly listened to teh NPR stream - sounded good, not very different from his old stuff - but maybe I need to hear this on proper home speakers to appreciate the commercial glossing up.

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Thursday, 24 October 2013 12:18 (four years ago) Permalink

i feel like we don't bat an eyelid when western music is removed from its context and dispersed to non-western countries

Yeah there's not much of this sort of handwringing around, say, afrobeats (which is largely made up of African pop, dancehall, US hip-hop and London dance music in varying proportions). But maybe that's because we're used to the idea of a constant cultural exchange with the bigger African countries. Physical exchange as well, most people who spend time in a big UK or US city will have encountered someone from Nigeria or Ghana whereas the same might not be true of someone from Syria, many people have had zero exposure to Syrian music, so people get this idea of it being this fragile bird that needs to be protected. As far as I'm aware there isn't anyone saying "Omar Souleyman is the only good Syrian music" or worse still "Omar Souleyman transcends Syrian music".

Matt DC, Thursday, 24 October 2013 13:21 (four years ago) Permalink

I do get the sense he's a guy you need to see live to see him at his best, though.

Matt DC, Thursday, 24 October 2013 13:22 (four years ago) Permalink

yep. live with a hyped enough crowd, his shows have been some of the most energetic/fun/dancey/manic shows i've ever seen.

Jamie_ATP, Thursday, 24 October 2013 16:13 (four years ago) Permalink

that Christgau/Spin review is good, but lol @ this line:

the programmed drums generate rhythms that few American tub-thumpers could map, much less replicate

i like the music but it's not exactly rhythmically complicated.

festival culture (Jordan), Thursday, 24 October 2013 18:49 (four years ago) Permalink

I didn't see the other article until after the edit -- what was removed?

Less-offensive uses of puto/puta (sarahell), Thursday, 24 October 2013 18:52 (four years ago) Permalink

Hebden seemed a bit upset yesterday: "Some of these pitchfork writers are such fucking amateurs. Facts all over the place."

djh, Saturday, 26 October 2013 11:11 (four years ago) Permalink

drama aside this is a great album

ogmor, Saturday, 26 October 2013 12:28 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Yeah there's not much of this sort of handwringing around, say, afrobeats (which is largely made up of African pop, dancehall, US hip-hop and London dance music in varying proportions).

There's actually a significant difference. I don't know much about Afrobeats, but as I understand it, it's something that grew up within a British immigrant community. Souleyman in the west functions as an individual transplanted into a foreign environment. It's not particularly a Syrian American or Arab American community supporting him (correct me if I'm wrong), and his sound isn't an immigrant hybrid. This seems like the kind of stuff you'd hear at dinner concerts, with tabouleh and shawarma and plentiful bottles of arak, but that's not the circuit he's performing in in the U.S. Or do they make some concessions to those things at these shows?

Not that I feel really strongly about these issues. I like Souleyman. I've heard somewhat similar (and also entirely different) Arab music I like more.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 19:26 (four years ago) Permalink

I don't think much of him as a vocalist.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 19:40 (four years ago) Permalink

the few other bits of dabke I've heard haven't had as good vocals as his stuff, is there someone w/ similar stoic anguish you wld recommend?

ogmor, Sunday, 22 December 2013 22:55 (four years ago) Permalink

I don't really listen to a lot of debka per se, or when I do it's usually by someone who performs a wide range of genres. So not really.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 23:10 (four years ago) Permalink

Would much rather listen to Mohammed Assaf's debka, but that's an entirely different thing. Doesn't have the trippiness of what Souleyman is doing. I have a live recording by Saleh Abdel Gafor which has some of that quality. It's not debka, but feels related. Not sure about the stoic anguish thing though. I wouldn't have thought of that as a description of Souleyman. Honestly I don't go looking for or expect stoic anguish in Arab vocalists. Maybe I'd describe Marcel Khalife that way at times, but if you know him, you know he sounds nothing like Souleyman.

I don't know how to just put a file up somewhere any more. Those sites all ask for too much involvement at this point.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 23:16 (four years ago) Permalink

I like some of Syrian debka star Ali Al Deek's music too (especially the album Aloush), but he may be too light for Souleyman fans.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 23:32 (four years ago) Permalink

(Wouldn't exactly call him a vocal virtuoso either.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 December 2013 23:35 (four years ago) Permalink

wenu wenu might be my favorite song of the year

|$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅| (gr8080), Monday, 23 December 2013 01:24 (four years ago) Permalink

I really like the four tet dude's production on this, subtle and relatively faithful to the style. Certainly "glossed up" but not in an obnoxious way like one of those putumayo records.

signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Monday, 23 December 2013 05:07 (four years ago) Permalink

and the keyboard sound totally kills

signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Monday, 23 December 2013 05:07 (four years ago) Permalink

^^otm on both posts. The keyboard solo on "Ya Yumma" is a scorcher. My heart starts racing when Souleyman kicks the song off with his jalla-jalla... Don't care about vocal virtuosos, I just love the grit in his vocals. Makes me want to smoke a cig with him :)

willem, Monday, 23 December 2013 09:58 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

One thing that is great about Omar Souleymann is how full on his music is... for all that the indie hipsters are supposedly embracing him, he is more like a Syrian Scooter than a Syrian [insert name of currently kewl hipster band].

Syrian Scooter you say??? *downloads furiously*

frogbs, Monday, 3 February 2014 21:52 (four years ago) Permalink

I was actually saying to some friends a while back that if Omar Souleyman and Scooter teamed up we would have some next level fun amazingness. Throw in Fatman Scoop and the world would implode.

jamiesummerz, Tuesday, 4 February 2014 13:45 (four years ago) Permalink

I don't know if Fatman Scoop would be willing to rock the jam once again

frogbs, Tuesday, 4 February 2014 14:05 (four years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

and the keyboard sound totally kills

― signed, J.P. Morgan CEO (Hurting 2), Monday, December 23, 2013 12:07 AM (5 months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

totally. really digging this whole album

marcos, Friday, 6 June 2014 15:12 (four years ago) Permalink

i have no qualms about the cleaner production, i think the record sounds great. i like this album a lot and i still like highway to hassake a lot, they are different and the production differences don't bother me much. the music is great on both albums.

marcos, Friday, 6 June 2014 15:14 (four years ago) Permalink

i do feel like his vocals were stronger on the earlier stuff, though, i imagine just as a result of age (now 15-20 years after those early recordings e.g. "leh jani" were first made). i felt like like sang with a greater urgency & fierceness on the earlier records that seems toned down here, not intentionally. his voice just seems older and somewhat less energetic. it's still very strong though.

marcos, Friday, 6 June 2014 15:16 (four years ago) Permalink

free show at millennium park in chicago this monday-- stoked!!!!!

°ㅇ๐ْ ° (gr8080), Friday, 6 June 2014 15:40 (four years ago) Permalink

oh shit

goole, Friday, 6 June 2014 16:15 (four years ago) Permalink

you are gonna wenu like crazy i bet

goole, Friday, 6 June 2014 16:15 (four years ago) Permalink

damn i've never listened to jazeera nights before, it's outstanding

marcos, Wednesday, 11 June 2014 20:39 (four years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

"nahy" from wenu wenu is such a jam

marcos, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:12 (three years ago) Permalink

also new track, new album coming, and a tour

03-26 Boise, ID - Treefort Music Festival
03-27 Athens, GA - Slingshot Festival
03-28 Knoxville, TN - Big Ears Festival
05-21 Halifax, Nova Scotia - Obey Convention 8
05-22 New York, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
05-23 Los Angeles, CA - Jewels Catch One
05-30 Bristol, England - Colston Hall
06-06 Copenhagen, Denmark - Distortion Festival
06-12 Toronto, Ontario - Bestival Toronto
06-26 Beuningen, Netherlands - Down The Rabbit Hole
07-11 Trencin, Slovakia - Pohoda Festival
07-16 Dour, Belgium - Dour Festival /

marcos, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:25 (three years ago) Permalink guess it is not super new, came out a few weeks ago, it is very good imo

marcos, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:25 (three years ago) Permalink

worth traveling up to NY to see him? srsly debating it now.

Mordy, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:35 (three years ago) Permalink

I would!

sleeve, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:45 (three years ago) Permalink

I am really digging this new tune

marcos, Thursday, 26 March 2015 14:56 (three years ago) Permalink

ehhhhh tbh seeing him live was pretty underwhelming

although i did see him at a huge free late afternoon outdoor show, i would be willing to see him a 2nd time in a club setting

gr8080, Thursday, 26 March 2015 15:06 (three years ago) Permalink

i've seen him three times and all of them at large outdoor spaces; i think his energy would be GREATLY improved at a small club like Poisson Rouge. I bet that'll be rocking

Maybe in 100 years someone will say damn Dawn was dope. (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 26 March 2015 15:43 (three years ago) Permalink

When I went to see him last year I hoped/expected to be able to see Rizan Sa'id do his magic on the synthesizer (as my friend did when he saw him a couple of years earlier) but it turned out there was 'just' someone who controlled a laptop from which the music was generated/streamed. Bit of a bummer, really. He's a great performer though.

willem, Thursday, 26 March 2015 16:31 (three years ago) Permalink

Rizan was at the gig i attended, but both were both dwarfed by the enormous stage they came nowhere near occupying

gr8080, Thursday, 26 March 2015 17:09 (three years ago) Permalink

i missed him in Chicago last year but finally saw him at Big Ears last week and the crowd was so into it. it was a smallish space (not an outdoor festival) and everyone was dancing. like every single person except for the man next to me so i gently elbowed him away

my question: will someone please recommend me more music that sounds like "atabat"? iirc he didn't play any slow songs live because it probably would have killed the mood or caused someone to spontaneously combust.

groundless round (La Lechera), Tuesday, 7 April 2015 14:05 (three years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Wow, this new album. Can't put my finger on it but it's both super familiar yet a lot better than Wenu Wenu

StanM, Sunday, 24 May 2015 20:28 (three years ago) Permalink

oh I didn't realise he had a new one, cool!

xelab, Sunday, 24 May 2015 23:22 (three years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

what do you all think of bahdeni nemi?

marcos, Tuesday, 11 August 2015 17:06 (two years ago) Permalink

seems less urgent than wenu wenu and especially the SF releases but i am enjoying it

marcos, Tuesday, 11 August 2015 17:06 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

who's heard the new one?

frogbs, Monday, 12 June 2017 21:48 (one year ago) Permalink

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