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Omar Souleyman Releases ‘To Syria, With Love’

SEEN cannot believe that she hasn’t listened to anything by the great Omar Souleyman, before. He started out as a wedding singer in his native Syria before re-locating to Turkey six years ago to escape the civil war. Since then he’s toured the globe, collaborated with Björk and Four Tet, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize and recently signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent – his acclaimed third LP To Syria, With Love was released on 3rd November, and there are further tour dates and a remix EP on the way for the end of November (featuring Simian Mobile Disco and CZ). He has been able to write, record and perform on at a level that few Arabic musicians have ever been able to, and has become a real figurehead over the years, with fans as varied as Skepta and Diplo.

The new album is sonically somewhat of a departure from his earlier releases, melding dabke and baladi styles but also weaving in complex keys and techno elements. The narrative of the record serves as a personal ode to his country.

The follow-up to 2015’s Bahdeni Nami, To Syria, With Love marks Omar Souleyman’s third full-length studio record. Released digitally and to critical acclaim in the US earlier in the summer, the album now receives a physical release in the UK on Diplo’s label Mad Decent in partnership with Because Music. The album also now features an additional track, ‘Tensana’. SEEN has been listening and can confirm that much dancing will be had in February next year at the Oval Space. I challenge anyone to sit still through this album.
Check out his wonderful videos here:

Completely setting politics aside, Souleyman consciously shares this personal ode to his native country with an emphasis on his emotional connection to the land and people, but not without heartache in view of the nation’s current state: “It’s been six years I’ve been away, and I’m tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it’s like having dust in my eyes,” Souleyman sings on the album.

Superimposed over complex electronic arrangements provided by Hasan Alo, the new music is joined with lyrics and poetry co-written by Souleyman’s long-time collaborator Shawah Al Ahmad. Medium to high-speed dabke and baladi styles are heavily featured throughout as Souleyman expresses his overarching longing for collective peace.

Souleyman released nearly 500 live albums before civil war broke out in his native Syria in 2011. He then moved to Turkey and in 2013 released Wenu Wenu via Ribbon/Domino, which NPR called, “…a jam so visceral, thrilling and intense as to make the mysterious matter of earthly borders seem hardly worth the time to contemplate.” The 2015 release Bahdeni Nami garnered widespread critical praise including The Guardian, who proclaimed, “It’s so fast that the only appropriate way to engage with it is to wriggle your limbs. Melodies are both abrasive and ebullient, chattering endlessly like raucous birdsong.”

He has bolstered his growing status as a world and electronic music icon establishing an extensive international following after touring widely and performing at major festivals, including Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork Paris and Roskilde. Since its founding in 2013, Souleyman has been an advocate for the charity Our Heart Aches for Syria, which operates in collaboration with Doctors Without Borders. In that same year, he performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway.

TO SYRIA, WITH LOVE TRACK LIST:

  1. Ya Boul Habari This makes you want to get up and dance.
  2. Ya Bnayya
  3. Es Samra
  4. Aenta Lhabbeytak
  5. Khayen
  6. Mawal
  7. Chobi
  8. Tensana

The Album has been released on: Double vinyl sleeve, Coloured Vinyl (yellow, orange, red and white) and CD. Order it here.

Forthcoming Tour Dates:

November 18th      Razzmatazz,  Barcelona , Spain
February 2nd (2018) Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
February 7th          Oval Space, London, UK
February 8th            Arena, Vienna, Austria

Seen this week

Categories MusicPosted on

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Tobias Rehberger Creates New Interactive Light Work at Gasholders Kings’ Cross

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The Final One Festival Comes to The Space

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