Showing posts with label CD Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CD Review. Show all posts

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Imed Alibi Launches New 'Safar' CD

Imed Alibi عماد العليبي

Imed Alibi is a multi-talented Tunisian percussionist and musician who has worked with such musicians/bands as Les Boukakes Rachid Taha,and Emel Mathlouthi.   His new CD 'Safar' is a musical masterpiece that blends drums with digital beats, keyboards, violin, accordion, qanun and the nay.

Imed Alibi Project at festival Arabesques 2013 (

Solo Imed Alibi au festival detours du monde 2012 (

The Imed Alibi Project has brought together a variety of talented musicians who have all contributed to the unforgettable sound of the Safar CD.   They include:


Imed Alibi, Safar (IRL, 2014)
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti All tracks FCC safe

Imed Alibi is an amazing Tunisian percussionist who has played with such musicians as Rachid Taha and Les Boukakes. This is his first solo album and features percussive music cobined with Berber and Sufi rhythms, ample violin sounds, and electronica.  A truly global musical gem.


**1. Pour quelques dinars de plus – Title composed by Stéphane Puech and inspired by the film ’For a Few Dollars More’ with a traditional Tunisian rhythm. 4:06

2. Bounawara – Tribal rhythm from Tunisia with Led Zeppelin influences at the end. 5:02

3. Fanfare d’Alexandrie – Trumpet sounds mixed with Egyptian baladi rhythm including darbuke. 5:17

**4. Maknassy – This is the name of Alibi’s hometown where the Tunisian revolution began. Features haunting vocals by Emel Mathlouthi. Gnawa rhythm. 5:06

**5. Nafass – Title means “Breath.” Sufi instrumental. Ft Zied Zouari on violin 6:11

6. MHD – Track composed by Pasco Teillet (Speed Caravan); rhythm gains speed as track progresses. 4:42

7. Balkani Connexion – Rhythm is 7/8. Balkani influence. 5:45

8. Staring at the Sand – Mixture of electro sound, Algerian vocals and tribal rhythms; joyful end ft Egyptian violins. 5:28


"Imed Alibi's music is an epic and joyful expression of a soul revolution. Built on the percussive foundations of Alibi's Berber and Sufi rhythms , virtuoso Tunisian violinist Zied Zouari's emotive quarter-tone melisma soars over rich orchestrations, heavyweight dub lines , and distorted digital beats of French stephane Puech. This is the soundtrack for a new Arab vision of the 21st Century and will do for contemporary Arabic music what Gotan project did for Tango and Latin"--JUSTIN ADAMS(producer,Robert Plant's guitarist)

The opening track 'Pour Quelques Dinars de Plus' is a grand, pounding instrumental that sets the mood with its reference to Ennio Morricone's music for the classic spaghetti western. There's drifting trumpet work on Fanfare D'Alexandrie, a cheerful Arab/eastern-European violin and accordion workout on Balkani Connexion, and – best of all – the thoughtful and then pounding Maknassy, which features guitar from co-producer Justin Adams and rousing vocals from Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, whose protest anthems spurred on the 2011 uprisings.

Imed Alibi's Safar CD Review (Source:
Imed Alibi’s debut album, a rich tapestry of North African, Turkish, Brazilian, Balkan and rock sensibilities, works a treat because nothing feels forced: the conjunctions are happy ones, creating a web of contrasting connections that flow with a sense of inevitability rather than irritatingly clash.

Built like a suite, “Safar” plays on changes of mood, each track leading into the next, with a perfectly judged sense of drama. There are widescreen cinematic moments, with multiple tracks built into a breathtaking wall-of-sound - Phil Spectorà l’orientale with shades of Ennio Morricone - in the opener “Pour quelques dinars de plus”, while the ney, violin and drum in the meditative “Nafass” evoke the slow-spiralling inward-focused movement of the Mevlevi dervish rituals.

The symphonic feel of many of the tracks, often strengthened by the well-timed alternation of tension and release, brings to mind the texture of the Middle Eastern and Egyptian orchestra – swirling violins with the romantic peals of delicate notes from the qanun. Imed Alibi has played percussion in classical orchestras, as well as with Safy Boutella, Rachid Taha and Mercan Dede. For his first album, he is graced with collaborators who have realised his vision with outstanding sensitivity. The French composer and electronic keyboard wizard Stéphane Puech contributes an array of subtle digital effects as well as unobtrusive but effective orchestration. Justin Adams – along with producer Tim Oliver – brings a rock sensibility to the mix, powerful but never drowning in the usual metal guitar clichés.

What holds the album together – and distinguishes it from other attempts at global mix – are Imed Alibi’s strong roots in North African and Arab music. The lilting rhythms and melismatic musical lines anchor his explorations in a tradition that happens to combine extremely well with the energy and ecstatic soul of rock’n’roll. (

My 'Arabology' radio program included a spotlight on Imed Alibi's new CD 'Safar' on March 6, 2014.  Listen at minute at 49 below or at

Arabology 7.8 [Mike Massy Interview + Imed Alibi + Alternative Arabic Music] by arabology

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ghanni A'an Taarif CD & Project Broach LGBT Issues in Arab Societies
“Ghanni A`an Taa`rif” (Singing Sexuality) is a daring youth music project and CD that aim at raising awareness about LGBT issues in Arab societies. It contains songs by various artists who sing about tolerance, gender equality and coexistence. More info at

1. Haya Zaatry sings ‘Mnakeer’ in a slow, deliberately mundane way.
2. **Jowan Safadi and Haya Zaatry sing a slow duet ‘Ji2tu ila Ahli’ [I Came to My Family] about being rejected by one’s family for taking off one’s mask.
3. Jowan Safadi sings ‘Qenaa Jded’ [New Mask] a mid tempo song with lots of bass guitar.
4. **The group Jam Tkseer [Broken Plural] sings a soft ballad titled ‘Qaseeda Sherera’ [Evil Poem] with lyrics based on a poem by Nizar Qabbani.
5. Raymond Haddad and Maisa Daw duet on this indie track called ‘Ana Hurra Bi Hali’ [I am Free to Be Myself] with a poetic, lyrical delivery about not wanting to be judged.
6. Jam Tkseer sing ‘Zomzom’ about a boy who likes to dress like a girl.
7. Abu rabus singing ‘Thalath Qasaed’ Narration in classical Arabic about gender roles accompanied by bizarre sounds.
8. Rola Azzar sings ‘Bahebk’ [I Love You] addressing a specifically female lover. Sounds like a French chanson, but in Arabic.



Ghanni LIVE CONCERT CLIPS عرض غنّي عن التعريف at:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Jakarta Records Releases 'Sawtuha' Featuring Female Singers of the Arab Spring

A little less then three years ago the political situation in many countries of the Arab world changed dramatically. Uprisings started in rural areas of Tunisia and from there spread to various countries in the region. Millions gathered in the streets united by their demand for more democracy, rights and participation in the political process. In most cases the reaction of the governing dictators were relentless and severe towards every form of protests. Violence in the streets of Cairo, Tunis and Bengasi escalated and resulted in the overthrow of the governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

A year later a group of female singers and musicians from Tunisia (Nawel Ben Kraiem, Badiaa Bouhrizi, Medusa, Houwaida), Libya (Nada) and Egypt (Donia Massoud, Maryam Saleh, Youssra El Hawary) met in Mohsen Matri Studio in Tunis to sing- against corruption, despotism, patronization and narrow-mindedness. The song with Syrian artist Rasha Rizk was recorded some months later in her political asylum in Cairo. Sudanese/American producer Oddisee and Olof Dreijer of the Swedish pop duo The Knife joined the session, participating in the creation of the musical backdrop as well as the often multi-instrumentalist female singers. For the vinyl edition producers such as Brenk, Blackjoy and Blundetto contributed remix versions of the project.

At the time and still today especially musicians and especially women were and are trapped in a spiral of repression, discrimination and violence. "Sawtuha" (Arabic for "her voice"), the album that is the product of the 2-week session, is a vital encouraging testament of rebellion against the repression of democratic rights, gender inequality, and lack of inclusion. The music is an organic mixture of traditional Arabic music, regional influences and various forms of contemporary Western musical genres. A mixture that may sound contradicting at first but makes total sense once you listen to the music.

You can purchase the CD on iTunes or at:
You can also purchase a vinyl edition at the link above.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My CD Review: Mashrou' Leila - Raasuk "رقّصوك"

The much anticipated third CD by the Lebanese group Mashrou' Leila is an instant masterpiece that solidifies the band's standing as the Arab world's leading indie/alternative musical artists. This CD combines the distinct sound of the violin with different rhythms and instruments while showcasing the powerful vocals of lead singer Hamed Sinno. The lyrics in Arabic are as poetic as they are contemporary. Tracks melt into each other like inter-connected chapters within a literary epic.

1. Prologue (1:21) Instrumental piece featuring Swiss/French trumpeter Erik Truffaz that eloquently and elegantly sets up our musical journey through the tracks that will follow.
**2. Abdo (3:18) is a popular, folkloric, fictional name in Arabic that is equivalent to "Joe Shmoe" in American English. Here our 'aging counter-hero' is in love with a widow who won't return his affections, leading to Abdo's heartbreak--a story that is accentuated by the song's deliberately melodramatic violin strings and music that stays with the listener long after the song--and Abdo--are gone..
3. Ala Babu (4:37) [At His Door] Sultry tune, a plea by a rejected lover in which he is willing to demean himself for love.
4. Taxi (2:45) Upbeat tune that sounds like Polish or Russian music mixed with various genres and contrasted by powerful lyrics in which the taxi ride is equated with one's doomed life journey..
5. Skandar Maalouf (4:01) Vocals in this song sound like Mika if he were to sing in Arabic. Song showcases Sinno's vocal ability to carry a song in upper registers. Just who is Skander Maalouf? Speculations abound.
**6. Lil Watan (3:36) [For the Homeland] Strongest track on this CD, mid tempo, addressing patriotism, nationalistic slogans and conspiracy theories.
7. Bishuf (4:34) [He Sees] Slow, rhythmic beats that sound like a funeral procession. Lyrics about depression, consciousness, sadness and resignation. Haig Papazian's violin is haunting.
**8. Ma Tetrikni Heik (2:26) [Don't Leave Me Like This] The Lebanese version of Jacques Brel's ‘Ne me quitte pas' with organ music and Sinno's vocals crying out in pain and desperation. Sounds almost like a Church prayer or lamentation.
9. Raasuk (4:02) [They Made You Dance] Title track begins with a grave tone but picks up as song progresses. Like track #6, this song talks about notions of nationalism and choosing to 'dance' like a puppet.
10.Wa Nueid (5:06) [Ad Nauseam] Redundant clapping sounds define this track which emphasizes individual choices and capabilities. Less pessimistic than tracks 6 and 9.
11.Bahr (3:27) [Sea] Epic-like track showcases breathtaking trumpet playing by Erik Truffaz with lyrics that lament the death of a brother who has disappeared into the sea. A plea for the sea to return him.
** My faves (2, 6, 8)

Recent Reviews of this CD/Band:
Review in Arabic from
Review in English from
The Economist:

Sample Tracks from 'Raasuk' CD:


'Lil Watan'

'Ma Tetrikni Heik'

Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's second CD 'El Hal Romancy':

'El Hal Romancy'

'Im El Jacket'

Sample Tracks from Mashrou' Leila's self-titled first CD:



Mashrou' Leila Video Clips:

Mashrou' Leila Live in Concert:

TV reports/interviews about Mashrou' Leila:

TV Report in English:

TV Interview in Arabic:

TV appearance on Bassem Youssef's Elbernameg - البرنامج TV Show:

Exclusive Pictures of Mashrou' Leila Performing in Beirut (2011)

My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Omaya Malaeb (2011):

My interview with Mashrou' Leila band member Hamed Sinno (2011):

More Info about Mashrou' Leila:
Official Website:
Facebook Page:
YouTube Channel:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My CD Review: Jerusalem In My Heart: Mo7it Al-Mo7it (2013)

JIMY: Mo7it Al-Mo7it CD Cover

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

Jerusalem In My Heart, or JIMH, is the musical alias of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, a Lebanese musician from Quebec where he has made a name for himself within the independent music scene of that city. Moumneh is known for mixing a love for music “with 16mm film projections and light-based (de)constructions of space.” His debut album Mo7it Al-Mo7 [Circumference of the Ocean] is set to be released on March 19 by Constellation Records and it marks the first official time that he has tried to translate his highly visual live show to a studio recording.

**1. Koll Lil-Mali7ati Fi Al-Khimar Al-Aswadi [Tell the Woman in Black] : Old classic made popular in 1973 by Sabah Fakhri set to new style, chanting of well known verses in Arabic music. (2:55)

2. 3andalib Al-Furat [Nightingale of the Euphrates]: Ambient, bird sounds, calm instrumental with Oud sound prevalent. (9:47)

3. Yudaghdegh El-Ra3ey Walal-Ghanam [The Sheppard and the Sheep] Haunting tune with witty lyrics about glorifying the Sheppard instead of the sheep. (3:22)

4. 3anzah Jarbanah [A Sick Goat] Title literally means ‘A Goat with Scabies.’ Mesmwing tune with mixed incomprehensible vocals, like a dubbed choir song. (6:34)

5. Dam3et El-3ein [Teardrop] Instrumental showcasing the sitar sound. (5:10)

6. Ko7l El-3ein, 3emian El-3ein [Mascara on a Blind Eye] Instrumental, slow and captivating. (3:56)

**7. Amanem [Lamentation] Begins with the traditional ‘Aman’ lamentation then includes chants in Arabic that sound like a Muslim prayer. (8:53)

**My faves: 1 and 7

AUDIO CLIP "JERUSALEM IN MY HEART - Koll Lil-Mali7ati Fi Al-Khimar Al-Aswadi"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

CD Review: Various Artists--Rough Guide to Arabic Revolution

Various Artists--Rough Guide to the Arabic Revolution (2013)
Label: World Music Network
CD will be released in March 2013

This double CD compilation showcases Arab singers and musicians whose songs have provided the ‘soundtrack’ to the Arab Spring. CD 1 mainly features Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan and Palestinian singers while CD2 strictly showcases the music of Ramy Essam, a young Egyptian singer who is known for playing his guitar and singing against the Mubarak regime in the streets of Cairo, leading to his arrest and torture. His best known song (oddly not included in this compilation) is “Irhal” [Depart] in which Mubarak is urged to resign. That track is referred to as the anthem of the revolution.

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

CD1 (Compilation; Artist/Song)

**1. Ramy Essam/ Taty Taty: Features Egyptian singer/activist Ramy Essam, accompanied by his guitar, sarcastically singing about democracy in Egypt. 

2. Emel Mathlouthi/ Kelmti Horra (My Word Is Free): Tunisian songstress whose new album was fueled by the Tunisian revolution. 

3. El Tanbura/ Heela Heela: El Tanbura is a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians, singers, fishermen and philosophers who have been custodians to some of Egypt’s oldest folk melodies at their home in Port Said. 

4. Dam Feat. Abeer Al Zinati/ Hon Enwaladet - Born Here (Arabic Version): Palestinian Hip Hop band living in Israel and singing here about being born there. Abeer is a female rapper who often sings with the group.

5. El General Feat. Mr Shooma/ State Of The Nation: El General is the Tunisian rapper whose song to the then President of Tunisia went viral on the net, igniting and contributing to the ensuing revolt. 

6. Cariokee/ Sout El Horeya: Canokee’s song about the “Sound of Freedom.” 

7. Sami Yusuf/ I'm Your Hope: Sami Yusuf sings this track in English and classical Arabic about cherishing the young men and women who rose up against their regimes. 

8. Ibn Thabit/ Calling The Libyan Youth: Libyan singer who dedicates his songs to the courage of Libyan women. 

**9. May Matar/ Metlak Mesh 3ayzin: May Matar is a Lebanese singer whose song(s) rebels against patriarchy, sexism, and the subjugation of women. 

10. The Palestine National Ensemble Of Arabic Music/ Kafkef Domouak: Palestinian Chorus performing a track about selling and buying one’s homeland. 

11. Ramzi Aburedwan/ Rahil: Moving instrumental by a Palestinian musician whose career began at age 8. 

12. Mustafa Said/ Ya Masr Hanet We Banet: Longest track on the CD (over 10 min long) by an Egyptian singer who plays the Oud and laments the loss of human life while proclaiming his love for Egypt. 

**13. Dal'ouna/ Et Nous, Nous Aimons La Vie: Slow, soothing tune with narration in French and vocal ensemble singing in Arabic about martyrs, mosques and loving life. 

**My picks: 1, 9, 13 (Ramzi Salti)

CD2 (Songs by Ramy Essam)

1. Etma3zam: Title means “Self Aggrandizement.” Guitar intro; reminiscent of American folk music. 

2. “Action” has guitar plus other instruments about massacres in Egypt.

3. 3ahd Mubark: Title means “The Age of Mubarak.” Track attacks Mubarak and his regime. 

4. 3oksha: Fast track with electric guitar, back vocals, very different from other songs on this CD. 

**5. Bata2ty: Title means “My ID Card” Faster beat; song about free Egypt. Sounds like 80s rock. 

6. Sabona W Khazoo2: Title means “Soap and Trouble.” Symbolic song about Tahrir Square 

7. Shay El-Thawra: Title means “Revolutionary Tea.” About people “boiling” from anger. 

8. 8 April: Short Track marking April 8, 2011, the day when 21 Egyptian military officers switched allegiances and decided to join the Revolution. 

9. Mal3oon: Title means “Rascal.” Ditty about Ahmad Shafiq who lost the elections to Morsi. 

10. El-Masala: Title means “The Matter at Hand.” About the media and dictators. Hard rock sound. 

11. Bta2ty Acoustic: This is the acoustic version of track 5 above. 

**12. Dabora W Short: Title refers to police/secret service uniforms. Song against the police 

**13. El-Ga7sh Wel 7omar: Title means “The Mule and the Donkey.” Song about politicians. 

14. Nafadt: Title is in colloquial Egyptian and refers to “forsaking” order, human rights, and the Egyptian Constitution. 

15. Tartoor: Title refers to a person who is easily manipulated to serve others. Demeaning term. Smooth sounding track.

**16. Al-Masry Al-Asly: Title means “The Real/Original Egyptian.” Just Ramy Essam and his guitar singing about being proud of being Egyptian. 

**My picks: 5, 12, 13, 16  (Ramzi Salti)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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

Buy album:




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.

Buy album:



Monday, January 14, 2013

My CD Review: Donia Masoud - Mahatet Masr

Born and raised in Alexandria, Donia Masoud began at a young age a three-year journey searching for and documenting Egyptian folk poetry and music. She traveled the length and breadth of the country, from Suez to Upper Egypt, to learn and study the musical repertoires of ordinary people. Upon her return, she founded her own independent troupe of musicians, with whom she now tours Europe, Asia and Africa performing Egyptian folkloric songs.

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

**1. Hen Al Ola (2:10) Traditional Egyptian tune originating in the Upper Nile region.

2. . Mesh Eb Aleky (3:48) Donia’s vocals meshing with the sound of the reed (nay). About an older woman in love with a much younger man.

3. Nena El Gnena (3:20) Hypnotic track, a cappella.

4. Ya Lalale (6:38) Nice beat, simple shaabi tune.

5. Babee Yasmeen (6:16) Long nay/flute intro, sounds like a mawwal or lamentation.

**6. Betnadeny (5:34) Sung to a female (by a female) who has been dumped for a man.

**7. Donia Ya Donia (2:25) A cry to the world, nice rhythm and beat, tableh/drums.

8. El Tager (4:51).Title means ‘The Merchant.’ Very traditional tune.

9. Garhy (5:31) Fast beat, drums, traditional instruments, lyrics about being wounded.

10. Ale Etgharab (6:53) Sad, slow intro, picks up with Donia’s repetitive lyrics.

**My picks: 1, 6,7 Ramzi Salti

My CD Review: Jadal - El Makina

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

This is the highly anticipated second album by the Jordanian rock group Jadal—the follow up to their classic first album ‘Arabic Rocks.’ "El Makina" contains 10 tracks that address social and personal issues pertinent to youth in the Middle East. Jadal sounds like a mix between Suystem of a Down and Jason Mraz. Composed and written by Mahmoud Radaideh. Vocals: Ahmad Zou’bi, Drums: Ammar Urabi, Bass: Amjad Shahrour, Guitars: Mahmoud Radaideh, Accordion: Hani Mezyan, Backing Vocals: Mahmoud Radaideh, Synthesizers:Bader Helalat. Mixing Engineer: David Scott.

1. Ghabeh B’eed (4:59) Steady rock ballad about going far away.

2. Ana Bakhaf Min El Commitment (4:20) Humorous track about being afraid of commitment.

3. Fe Nabd Ana Has (3:52).Rock ballad that starts slowly, picks up and becomes rock song.

**4. El Makina (4:57) Title track is appealing, about working like a machine. Rock ballad.

5. I’m In Love with Wala Bint (3:30) Soft rock, lots of guitar sounds.

6. Yum El Jum’a Dayman Ashwab (3:54) Title is ‘Fridays Are Always Hotter.’ Starts slow, then becomes regular rock song.

7. Zad El Sheib (4:37) Soft rock ballad about grey hair creeping in on a guy.

**8. Bye Bye Azizi (4:01) Lively, instantly likable soft rock song.

9. Ma Raddatish (4:50) Sounds like Soudgarden.

10. Hada Yakhud Makani (2:33) Weird sounds in intro, slow, picks up with bizarre instruments and noise.

**My picks: 4 and 8 Ramzi Salti


To buy/download this album from Amazon, click HERE

For more info on the band and new album see

You can view the video clip for the title track at

Jadal's YouTube Channel:

Jadal on Soundcloud:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My CD Review: Tamer Abu Ghazaleh - Mir'ah

Tamer Abu Ghazaleh Mir’ah 

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

A uniquely creative performer and promoter of a wide range of music, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh is a leading figure in modern Arabic culture. This singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer has over the past few years released a debut album and founded eka3 (2007), a regional platform dedicated to promoting, producing, distributing, and touring independent Arabic music. This is his debut album titled Mir'ah (Mirror) and the lyrics are either in classical Arabic or in the Levantine colloquial dialect.

**1. 7ob [Love] is a piece with classical Arabic lyrics with guitar sound only

2. . Takhabot [Internal Struggle]. Oud and guitar with piano. Jordanian dialect.

3. Al Shibak [The Net] This track sounds like an experimental impromptu track with guitar and oud. Repetitive, haunting lyrics, featuring multi layered vocals by the same singer.

4. Mir’ah [Mirror] Title track is bizarre sounding, deliberately annoying instruments and vocals all over the place. Classical Arabic poetry set to music..

5. Dawameh [Whirlwind] Long musical Oud intro; Jordanian dialect.

**6. 7awel Ya Ghanam [Melody Maker] Multiple Oud sounds, some bouzouki, instrumental track (no vocals)

7. Sokoot [Silence] This track has the most instrument variety, many bizarre sounding noises and long lamenting vocals in Levantine Arabic.

**My picks: 1, 6 Ramzi Salti

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My CD Review: DJ Nader - Hizzy Hips in the Mix

DJ Nader Hizzy Hips in the Mix
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

DJ Nader is known for his amazing remixes all over the Arab world. In this compilation—which can be played as independent tracks or as one long uninterrupted megamix (put CD player on ‘Continuous’ instead of ‘Single’)—he remixes both old and new Arabic songs in with emphasis on loud, joyful, rhythmic music that will cause listeners to immediately start shaking their hips (and bellies).

**1. Lebanese pop star Rami Ayash starts the mix with this famous track (4:14)

2. Assi Hallani, another Lebanese music legend, sings about the eyes of his beloved (4:01) .

3. Fares Karam represents the Lebanese countryside and villages; here he sings about a girl in a short skirt (4:16)

4. Rami Ayash featured again singing about his overjoyed heart—remixed with western instruments (3:43)

**5. Wael Kfoury is known in Lebanon for his soft ballads but here he sings in the traditional Dabke genre about the impossibility of rain in August.(4:32)

6. Darine is a Western artist who sings in Arabic; her catchy song here is titled “Yes” (3:53)

7. This is purely DJ Nader’s composition with hip hop vocals in English and Arabic (Englabic) (4:27)

8. Egyptian male vocalist Tamer beseeches his beloved to come closer (3:53)

9. Hasna, a female vocalist from the Gulf, sings about a “Love Messenger” in the Khaliji dialect (4:01)

10. Egyptian living legend Hakim, who has been recording his folksy/shaabi brand of songs for decades, is featured in this remix which was originally recorded as a duet with Latin Pop singer Olga Tanon (4:37)

11. Nourhan’s version of the drum/doumbek-driven classic “Habibi Ya Ainy” (3:41)

12. Lebanese singer Fadel Shaker normally mid-tempo song ‘Ya Ghayeb’ about missing one’s beloved is remixed here by DJ Nader in a way that effectively fuses Eastern and Western beats (3:41)

13. This is an instrumental Dabke piece featuring the sound of the mijwiz—a a type of reed clarinet that sounds a little like the Scottish bagpipes (2:20)

14. A lively song about heaven(3:53)

15. Kahled Issa’s version of a Iraqi folksong whose translated title is “Above the Palm Trees” (4:09)

16. Lively beat Lebanese village tune welcoming guests. Stops in middle, slows down to a rhythmic dabke dance, then the fast paced song reprises (3:50)

**17. DJ Nader’s awesome remix of the Fairuz classic “Nassam Alayna Al-Hawa” featuring the voice of the Lebanese Diva herself (3:49)

18. Fast paced track combining Latin beats with Arabic and Spanish lyrics, based on the Turkish classic “Ya Siti Ya Khityara” (3:20)

19. This 16 second track by Fairuz is how DJ Nader often ends his legendary remixes (0:16)

**My picks: 1, 5, 17 Ramzi Salti

My CD Review: Nancy Ajram - Super Nancy (2012)

Album Review
Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-10-18 
-- All Tracks are FCC CLEAN --
Although this is a children’s album—recorded by the Lebanese Princess of Pop Nancy Ajram as a tribute to her two young daughters Milla and Ella— this CD has been getting so much airplay on radio stations all over the Arab world that its target audience—Arab children—has taken a back seat to the mass appeal of these songs.

**1. Ya Banat.(3:10) is the first single off this album and is an ode to daughters and girls, going against patriarchal and outdated concepts that used to favor the birth of sons over daughters. In Egyptian dialect.
2. Bo2 El Katkout (3:13) )[Mouth of the Chicken] Childish track, Arabic nursery rhyme with Egyptian dialect.
**3. Ba2ousi (2:50) [Peakaboo] A guilty pleasure for adults, this addictive song was initially intended for children. In Lebanese Arabic.
4. Sana Helwa Ya Gamil (4:01) [Happy Birthday] is a variation on the Happy Birthday theme. Egyptian dialect..
5. Stouhy (4:38) [Rooftops] Danceable, up beat song with children’s back vocals.
**6. Wez 3einak (3:11) [Check it out] Techno sounding children’s nursery rhyme, complete with baby sounds and children’s chorus. Lebanese.
7. Oulo Hela (4:06) [Say Hey] Egyptian folksong revived and remixed.
**8. Adi El Beida (3:33) [The Egg] A techno dance track that seems geared towards a mass market (not just children).

My picks: 1, 3, 8

Ramzi Salti

My CD Review: Aziz Maraka - Master Copy

Album Review
Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-10-18 
-- All Tracks are FCC CLEAN --

Aziz Maraka is one of the leading alternative music composers and performers in Jordan. In 2005 he founded the group RAZZ, (Rock-Arabic-Jazz). "Master Copy" is Maraka’s first officially released CD. It includes both studio tracks as well as live versions of some songs. All tracks are in Arabic.

**1. Bent Ennas.(4:30) is a jazzy sounding tune, upbeat, lots of trumpets.
About a girl who won’t respond to a guy’s affections.
2. Al Atwa (4:08) Begins dramatically with symphonic sounding orchestra, nay plying (flute), drums. Slows down into a mawwal (lamentation) which then picks up.
**3. Ibki (Live) (5:20) Oud playing begins this ballad, along with piano, vocals with echo, slow tempo.
4. Leish habibi (live) (6:21) Slow track, lots of piano playing, soft jazz, grand ballad-like segments.
5. Laa (live) (4:38) Begins with piano and violin; sounds sad. Symphonic instrumental (no vocals).
**6. Amman (6:56) This is Maraka’s tribute song for Jordan’s capital Amman. Slow and haunting. Powerful vocals.
7. Bent Ennas (live) (7:43) Live version of track 1 above. Extended, longer. Version.
**8. Bahki Lahali (live) (3:30) Title means “I Speak to Myself.” Sad slow track about being away from one’s country.
9. Possessed (4:44) Up-tempo, nice beat, combines eastern and western instruments. Showcases Maraka’s vocal ability.

My picks: 1, 3, 8

Ramzi Salti

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My CD Review of 'Paleo Festival Nyon 2012: Moyen Orient'

Couv CD VdM

Various Artists / Paleo Festival Nyon 2012--Moyen Orient
Label: Disques Office

Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-09-12

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN except Track 2--

The Paleo Festival Village du Monde is part of an annual music festival
that takes place in Switzerland and features some of the greatest
musicians from around the world. This year (2012) the world music venue
focused on artists from the Middle East, all of whom performed at the
festival, including some from Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and other places in
the region.

1. Omar Souleyman "Hafer Gabrak Bidi" Loud, joyous, upbeat tune that
sounds like something that would play at an Arab wedding. (3:35)
2. Balkan Beat Box "Political F*ck" (EXPLICIT) Noisy, catchy, with lots
of explicatives (3:47)
**3. DAM "Mali Huriye' Palestinian band DAM singing a hip hop tune
about freedom. (3:41)
**4. Mashrou' Leila "Imm El Jacket" A gender bending song by the
Lebanese group Mashrou' Leila about a guy who is attracted to a girl
whom he thought was another guy (3:03)
5. Baba Zula "Temptation" African drums and beat along with repetitive
lyrics about temptation (4:32)
**6. Natacha Atlas "Taalet" Upbeat tune with Arabic lyrics by a singer
known for her fusion of Arabic and Western electronic music (3:13)
7. Trio Joubran "Nawwar" Instrumental piece by this Oud trio. Mid
tempo, slows down in middle (4:42)
8. Ibrahim Maalouf "Will Soon Be a Woman" A mellow instrumental by
Maalouf who is noted for playing Arabic music with quarter tones on the
trumpet (5:25)
**9. Avishai Cohen "Alon Basela" Beautiful, mellow tune by Israeli
singer/composer Avishai Cohen who is one of the most gifted bassists of
his generation. Lyrics in Hebrew. (4:07)
10. Egyptian Project "Anta Ana"Upbeat song with lots of Eastern
instruments blended with Arabic vocals (4:02)
11. Niyaz "Parishaan" Representing Iranian music in this venue, this new
track by Niyaz is sung in Farsi, Khorasani dialect (3:57)
12. Jack Is Dead & son Orchestre Iranian "The Wasp vs. The Hand" Catchy
tune with English lyrics; haunting back vocals (4:03)
**13. Yemen Blues "Eli" Israeli band featuring the fascinating voice of
Ravid Kahalani who, shaped by his origins as a Yemeni Jew, brilliantly
evokes the musical universe of his ancestors. . (5:46)
14. The Alaev Family "Sarsari" Hailing from Tajikistan and now based in
Israel, these dynamic musicians and drummers innovatively meld Central
Asian, Turkish, Persian, and Russian traditions as well as the Jewish
music of Bukhara (3:11)
15. Broukar "Mawal" Mesmerizing instrumental, slow and haunting, lots of
Oud playing, vocals in Arabic sound like a lamentation (6:31)

**My picks: 3, 4, 9, 13 Ramzi Salti

This review also available at this LINK

My CD Review of Omeima El Khalil: Ya

El Khalil, Omeima / Ya

Album: Ya Collection: World
Artist: El Khalil, Omeima Added: 09/2012
Label: Forward Music

Album Review

Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-09-11

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN—

Known throughout the Eighties and Nineties for her powerful vocals and somewhat traditional songs, Omeima El Khalil’s 2011 album represents a break from the norm for this relatively famous female vocalist who attempts to now fuse western beats with Arabic lyrics while tackling themes that center on love’s joy and pain. Latin beats dominate several of the tracks on this CD, while other songs sound traditionally Egyptian.

**1. “Ouhibbouka Akhtar” (I Love You More) (5:32) An a cappella declaration of passion; haunting vocals (5:32).
2. “Ya Helou” (Handsome Guy) fuses salsa rhythms with Arabic lyrics. (4:17)
3. “Daret El Kahweh” (Serving Coffee) Slow ballad about drinking coffee from a broken cup. (6:56).
4. “Ya Sidi” (Master) is the single that was commercially released and seems the least interesting in terms of musical experimentation (4:04)
5. “Ila Akhirihi” (Etc.) sounds a bit bluesy and jazzy while mixed with a Latin beat that changes into regular Arabic rhythm (3:51)
**6. “Shab Y Sabiyeh”(A Boy and a Girl) Sweet, romantic ballad about a love that defies society and time.(5:07)
7. “Laff” (Turn) Fast rhythm, danceable, long musical introduction no lyrics, just chanting (4:05)
8. “Iyam” (Days) Starts slow then picks up. Song about jealousy and envy among people (4:42)
**9. “Mazaj”(Mood) (Beirut Biloma Remix) Western rhythm, slow ballad, featuring Omeima’s chanting voice without any lyrics (5:48).

**My picks: 1, 6, 9 Ramzi Salti

Track Listing

1. Ouhibbouka Akthar 6. Ila Rkhirihi
2. Ya Helou 7. Shab Y Sabiyeh
3. Leh? 8. Laff
4. Daret El Kahweh 9. Iyam
5. Ya Sidi 10. Houwe
11. Mazaj (Beirut Biloma Remix)

Review also available on Zookeeper via this link

My CD Review of Pangia: West of East (Vol 5)

Pangia / West Of East
Label: Pangia Vol 5

Ramzi S.
Reviewed 2012-09-11

--All Tracks are FCC CLEAN--

Pangia is a world music band made up of 3 musicians: Pat Olson (Oud,
Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard); Denise Mannion (Keyboard); Carmine T. Guida
(Doumbeck, Accordion, Riq). This album focuses mainly on songs
from/about Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and intersects them with different
world beats and rhythms. Some tracks are written and produced by Pat
Olson while others are remakes of traditional Arabic songs (with a
Pangia twist). Most tracks are instrumentals.

**1. "The Night Is Beautiful" (Lebanon) Lebanese folkloric tune; upbeat
2. "Pharonic Dream" (P. Olson) Drum sounds at beginning lead to slow,
contemplative melody with lots of Oud playing (3:28) .
3. "Insha'Allah Drum Solo" (C. Guida) Rythmic melody featuring the
Doumbeck drum (3:08)
4. "Finale: The Night is Beautiful" (Lebanon) Shorter version of track
#1 (1:07)
5. "Noora" (Egypt) This is an old song by Farid El Attrache that has
been revamped by Pangia; instrumental, mid-tempo beat (4:53)
6. "Taxsim Extreme"(P. Olson) Slow, grave melody with Oud sound
dominating the track (2:44)
7. "Sarah's Drum Solo" (C. Guida) Drums and Doumbeck; great for belly
dancing (1:42)
**8. "Samra" (Traditional Arabic) Very popular tune revamped by the
group and quite belly-danceable (3:27)
9. "Eastern Fire" (Lebanon) This track 'Farhat Shebab' was written by
Lebanon's Rahbani Bros who are known to have written most of Lebanese
diva Fairuz's songs. Nice joyous tune (3:36
10. "Yalla-Yalli, Chfta-Chifti (P. Olson) Slow, almost tribal tune with
exotic music that sounds like 'The Arabian Nights' (3:40)
11. "Turkish Delight-9/8 Drum Solo" Upbeat, Doumbeck driven tune (C.
Guida) (1:08)
12. "Siz'lah" (Turkey) Fast paced melody (2:52)
13. "Zeina" (Egypt) (3:27) Slow instrumental that pays tribute to
Egyptian composer Muhammad Abdel Wahab
14. "Attar of Roses" (California) Oud, slow (2:30)
15. "Mandala California Drum Solo" Typical Pangia belly dancing tune (C.
Guida) (1:43)
16. "Ah, Vervina!" (P.Olson) Nice rhythmic melody, fast (2:30)
**17. "Sultana" (P.Olson & C. Guida) Oud intro picks up as tune develops

**My picks: 1, 8, 17 Ramzi Salti

Review also available on Zookeeper by clicking here

Monday, June 25, 2012

My CD Review of Jadal's 'Arabic Rocks'

Jadal / Arabic Rocks
Album:Arabic Rocks Collection:World
Artist:Jadal Added:06/2012
Label:Forward Music 

Album Review
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Reviewed 2012-06-13 
Jadal is a Jordanian rock band, known for being the first successful group to record original rock songs in Arabic (Jordanian dialect). Arabic Rocks is Jadal's debut album, released in 2009, and consists of the tracks that they have played all along their career--tracks that made their audience double & triple throughout the past couple of years. The album also features a track co-created with the leading hip-hop crew DAM, named "Ya Bani Adam".

1. Iss (1:46) Rock instrumental retro
**2. Salma (2.34) The most popular song on this CD, instantly likable, about a little girl named Salma who is also a niece of one of the band members.
3. Ya Bani Adam (ft. DAM) (3:12) A rock tune hailing all humankind to keep evolving.
**4. Omr Jdeed (5:25) The most solid, typical track on this album. Sounds like Soundgarden.
5. Ya Ahla Oyoun (4:47) Slow rock ballad about gorgeous eyes.
**6. Al-Tobah (5:09) An old classic, originally recorded by Abd El Halim Hafez in the 70's, rock version!
7. Meen Shad Habibi (5.04) Slowest track on CD. Looking for a lost love.
8. Niyalak (4.05) Nice rock rhythm, about congratulating someone for seeing things in a new way.
**9 Eldaraweesh (3:20) Sounds like reggae meets soft rock. Best track on album according to the critics.
10. La Tloum (5:15) Starts slow then becomes a rock tune, harsh and a lot of guitar, drums.
11. Ghalbi Mithl El Ward (5:07) Title means 'My Heart Is Like Roses' and this track is slow, nice use of tabla - least rock-sounding track.
12. Nseet Ahla Thekra (5:25) Rock tune about forgetting the greatest memory.
13. Baya' Elkastana (3:20) Title means 'Chestnut Seller.' Hard rock sound.
14. Rah Bakkeer (5:19) Softer rock tune. Rock ballad, Jadal-style.

My picks: 2, 4, 6 & 9 Ramzi Salti

Track Listing
1.Iss (Instrumental) 8.Niyalak
2.Salma 9.Eldaraweesh
3.Ya Bani Adam Ft. Dam 10.La Tloum
4.Omr Jdeed 2 11.Galbi Mithel El-Ward
5.Ya Ahla Oyoun 12.Nseet Ahla Thekra
6.Al-Tobah 13.Bayya' Elkastana
7.Meen Shad Habibi 14.Rah Bakkeer

My Review of Yasmine Hamdan's New CD

Hamdan, Yasmine / Yasmine Hamdan
Album:Yasmine Hamdan Collection:World
Artist:Hamdan, Yasmine Added:06/2012
Label:Kwaidan Records 

Album Review
Reviewed by Ramzi Salti, Ph.D.
Reviewed 2012-06-13 
Yasmine Hamdan's self titled CD cements the solo career of this Lebanese female vocalist who has already achieved much musical success as part of such Arab alternative bands as 'Soapkills' and 'YAS.'  In this album, she includes new songs plus old Arabic classics, re-recorded with her own voice, while making them distinctly experimental, grungy, disturbing, yet completely appealing. CD is produced by Marc Collin.

1. In Kan Fouadi (3:47) Old Egyptian song in classical arabic. Very trance-like.
**2. Beirut (3:30) Based on a Lebanese song from the 1940s and set to 12-string guitar melody.
3. Samar (3:27) Has a Beduin feel. Sounds like a chant. Echoing vocals.
4. Baaden (3:26) Hypnotic tune sung with a Egyptian/ Palestinian dialect.
5. Ya Nass (3:15) Slow, rhythmic song calling out to people for help.
6. Irss (2:38) Song title means 'wedding.' Sung in Kuwaiti dialect. The most joyful track on this CD.
**7. Nediya (3:55) Whispery vocals set to thumping beat, slow but passionate. Picks up and slows down again.
8. Nag (3:41) Song about a relationship gone wrong. Sounds tense, slow, and gives the listener a sense of urgency. Builds up to faster rhythm.
9. Shouei (3:34) Ballad with string guitar and dreamy vocals about 'slowing down.'
10. La Mouch (3:32) Melancholic song about refusing to return to a past love. Instantly likable beat.
**11. Bala Tantanat (3:58). Title means 'Without Ceremony.' Starts out very slow giving way to breathy verses and eventual crescendo of back vocals.

My picks: 2, 7, 11

Track Listing
1.In Kan Fouadi 6.Irss
2.Beirut 7.Nediya
3.Samar 8.Nag
4.Baaden 9.Shouei
5.Ya Nass 10.La Mouch
 11.Bala Tantanat

Ramzi Salti's Talk: Healing through Lebanese Music (EPIC Fellows, Stanford Global Studies, September 2020)

Watch full talk at This audio-visual talk by Stanford Lecturer + Arabology program host Dr. Ramzi Salti was pre...