CD Review: Rim Banna - Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion

Rim Banna/ Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion/2013/ Kirkelig Kulturverksted
ريم بنّا--تجليات الوجد والثورة

Over the past few years, Palestinian singer Rim Banna has seen the music she had created over the last decade become part of the Arab Spring's "soundtrack".  This is her latest album, released in 2013--a soothing, tranquil, powerful album that should be listened to in its entirety.  All tracks are in classical Arabic except 11. Lyrics are in many instances poems by such poets as Ibn Arabi ابن عربي (track 12), Badr Shaker Assaiab بدر شاكر السياب (tracks 2, 6, 7),  Mahmoud Darwish محمود درويش (track 4), Rashid Hussein راشد حسين (track 1), Al-Hallaj الحلاج (track 8) and Ibn Al-Farid ابن الفارض (tracks 3, 5, 10). Track 11 was written by Amara Al Omrani عمارة عمراني, a Tunisian prisoner who was tortured under the reign of Ben Ali.

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

**1. The Absent One [Al-Gha’ib الغائب] A lamentation in classical Arabic which incorporates the Muslim call to prayer.  Lyrics by Rashid Hussein (1936-1977).
2. The Hymn of the Rain [Unshudat Al-Matar أنشودة المطر] Slow, soothing. Lyrics by Badr Shaker Assaiab, a famous Iraqi poet who died in 1964.
3. Supply Me with an Excess of Love [Zidni bi-farat Al-hob زدني بفرط الحب] Piano and Rim’s voice, slow and sad. Lyrics from the Sufic poetry of Ibn Al-Farid عمر بن علي بن الفارض (also spelled `Umar ibn `Alī ibn al-Fārid) (1181-1235).
4. The Trace of the Butterfly [Athar El Farasha أثر الفراشة] Nice beat, nice use of the nay (a kind of flute).  Lyrics by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008).
5. The Taste of Love [Ta3m El Hawa طعم الهوى] Another slow ballad.  Lyrics by Ibn Al-Farid.
6. Don’t Increase His Agony [La Taziduhu Law3a لا تزيديه لوعة One of the faster tunes, about physical pain vs. emotional pangs.  Lyrics by Badr Shaker Assaiab.
**7. Stranger in the Gulf [Gharib fil Khalij غريب في الخليج] Calm intro, a song for Iraq.  Lyrics by Badr Shaker Assaiab.
8. Astonished by You and Me [3ajibtu minka wa minni عجبت منك ومني] Male vocalist joins Rim Banna during parts of this song.  Lyrics by Sunni Sufic poet Al-Hallaj (858-922).
**9. Two Kinds of Love [Uhibuka Hubbayn أحبك حُبين] Majestic, slow tune, nicely orchestrated and accentuated by various Middle Eastern musical instruments.
10. My Heart Tells Me [Qalbi YuHadithuni قلبي يحدثني] Grave intro, sound of kamanja (violin) makes the song sad if not heartbreaking.  Lyrics by Ibn Al-Farid.
11. The Free Man [Al-Hur الحر] Fastest track on the CD but still a ballad. In colloquial Arabic.  Lyrics by Amara Al Omrani, a Tunisian prisoner who was tortured under the reign of Ben Ali.
12. The Sun of Love [Shams Al Hawa شمس الهوى] Piano intro, about feeling connected to a Higher Power.  Lyrics by Ibn Arabi.
**My picks: 1, 7, 9 Ramzi Salti

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Review from YouTube Published on Jan 17, 2013
Arranged and produced by Bugge Wesseltoft
Original Review at

Throughout the "Arab Spring", Rim Banna, the best-known voice of Palestine, has seen how the music she has created over the last ten years has become part of the revolution's "soundtrack". She has toured and held concerts in several of the countries where artists have mobilized the masses to overthrow regimes and presidents, especially in Tunisia and Egypt, where she has had many performances. Now Rim has searched back into the Pan-Arabic cultural heritage and composed her own music for classical Arabic poetry, which through time and space reflects the revolutionary spirit that permeates the atmosphere of the audiences she meets on a daily basis. The result is a fantastic new album, "Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion" which was released on 14 January, the second anniversary of the "Arab Spring".

A number of new musicians join Rim on her new album, including some Norwegians, including Eivind Aarseth, who plays guitars, as he has done on all the three preceding Rim Banna records, and Bugge Wesseltoft (piano, keyboards and programming), who has produced and arranged the album. He has put together a band that also includes Jihed Khmiri (percussion), Kays Zorrouk (oriental cello) and Mohamed Ben Salha (flute), from Tunis, and Ossama Bishara (kanoon) and Ramsis Kassis (oud) from Palestine. Indian-British Shrikant Shriram plays bass.

The new production has for the most part been recorded and produced in Norway (by Martin Abrahamsen and Bugge Wesseltoft), but some of the songs were recorded in Nazareth in Palestine and in the Ennejma Ezzahra palace in Tunis. Tunisian rapper Mr Kaz is also featured on one of the tracks. The record has been funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and "Fond for Lyd og Bilde" (the Audio and Visual Fund).

The poems on the album have been written by famous Sufi poets (Mansour Al Hallaj, Ibn Al Faredh, Rabeah Al Adawiyyah and Ibn Arabi) and more modern poets from the Arab world (Amara Omrani, Bader Shaker Al Sayyab, Mahmoud Darwish and Rashed Hussein).

The producer is KKV, which has been releasing Rim Banna's records since 2003.

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