Boomkat Product Review:
Immersive first solo album in over a decade from Raed Yassin, a pioneer of experimental music in Lebanon, here turning “ethnomusicological” recordings from ‘50s-‘80s into something like a psychedelic sci-fi soundtrack
Recorded at Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Studio in Berlin and mixed by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart) at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, Yassin’s archaeological expedition is a truly diasporic affair, enlisting fellow Lebanese notables to faithfully bring his vision of an anachronistic, even uchronic, Arabic music to life. The album is geostamped and personalised in a way that could really only come from this artist, whose singular works have delighted and perplexed us for many years around these parts, spanning solo cut-ups of Arab pop music thru to free-jazz and Egyptian Chaabi fusions as part of Praed, and always investing a strong sense of personality to his work, be it thru his expressive, extended instrumental tekkers or his absorbing focus on textural details.
Equipped with a heavy sample bank sourced from his archival research into so-called “ethnic” recordings, plus racks of synths, turntables, zither, and his prepared double bass, Yassin’s eight compositions on ‘Archeophony’ are immediate in their grip, but steeped in ideas that perhaps may only come thru with immersed listening. On the surface they form a fascinating abstract narrative or journey, but zoom out a bit and they can be heard to frame a more radical reclamation of his region’s musical history from its distorted colonial definitions. Ironically enough it takes Yassin’s judicious, reorienting application of electronics FX and distortion to hold up a clearer, if elusive, image or rereading of modern Arab music. To our ears it is a definition that echoes new movements coming from Cairo, yet painted with a widescreen canvas in mind, and a sense of slow-burning, eternal temporality that’s simply intoxicating to undergo.