Boomkat Product Review:
Never before heard outside Palestine, aside from a few copies not confiscated by the Israeli army, Riad Awwad’s reaction to the First Intifada 1987 will be greeted by many keen ears 35 after it was recorded.
Using custom-built electronic equipment and starring acclaimed Palestinian writer Mahmoud Darwish, plus Riad Awwad’s sisters Hanan, Alia, and Nariman, ‘The Intifada 1987’ is a properly curious artefact recorded in the Awwad familiy’s living room just one week after the sustained series of Palestinian protests and civil unrest began, due to an IDF truck killing four Palestinian workers, apparently in retaliation to the killing of a Jew in Gaza days earlier. While its roots are heavier than most of us can imagine, the music balances the mournful with remarkably ebullient synths and pulsating rhythms that wrest a certain optimism from violent backdrops.
The album was originally pressed up on cassette in edition of 300 and sold in the Old City of Jerusalem and across the West Bank. Despite attempts to confiscate all copies they could find, and arresting, interrogating and detaining Riad for several months, the tape remained in a personal collection of some 5000 tapes bought by artist and music collector/archivist Mo’min Swaitat, and now emerges some generations later via the Majazz project.
While Riad is no longer around to see its reissue - he spent his life playing music before founding a school, teaching kids to make their own electronic equipment, and was tragically killed in a 2005 car accident - ‘The Intifada 1987’ stands as vibrant testament to a powerful story, uniquely rendered with eeriest FX on the likes of ‘Palestinian’, the plangent lament ’40 Years’, or the bubbling beauty ‘Intifada’ starring his sisters spiralling vocals, and liberally driven by knees-up pomp with the likes of his brassy ‘Graves’, and discoid zingers such as ‘Im From Jerusalem’.