Boomkat Product Review:
Originally self-released in 2014, "Njoum" is Lebanese musicologist Youmna Saba's prismatic third album, an emotional and brain-restructuring mixture of oud, processed guitar, and spine-tingling vocals.
Saba composed Njoum when she was on a residency at South Korea's Gyeonggi Creation Center. A studied musician and musicologist, she was interested in exploring different aspects of storytelling and songwriting, combining these elements with subtle electro-acoustic treatments. While this might sound like an unusual release for the Touch label, it makes perfect sense - Saba's work is tense and precise, but steeped in history and emotion. You don't have to be able to unpick the lyrics to understand the stories she's conveying as she pulls apart guitar tones and croons assuredly.
Saba is a keen collaborator and has worked with artists like Mike Cooper and Piotr Kurek, and currently researches the musicality of the Arabic language and its use as a tool to generate new methods of working with electronics. Those inclinations and interests are on full display here, and while her processes are sparse and restrained, they're fully absorbing. Saba's songs are complete folk expressions and deep, textural explorations of electro-acoustic experimentation - quite a feat.