Tuesday, February 21, 2006

It's a small world after all....

A big hello and happy Tuesday from Sherman! Pay attention today 'cuz Sherman has something he REALLY wants to share with everyone. Yesterday, Sherm's dear friend (dc) played an amazing compilation of music put out yearly to promote artists from places as diverse as Senegal and Beirut. The compilation is entitled Francophonie 2006 and is sponsored by all kinds of wonderful French arts organizations with fancy names like Organization Internationale De La Francophonie and Conseil Francophone de la Chanson. After listening to quite a bit of great Afro-pop, we took a little venture to Lebanon. I can only say that some incredible music is being made there. Music that we all need to know about. The first group to hit the player was Soap Kills. The track we fell in love with is called "Aranis". An electro-acoustic downtempo track that combines traditional and current music styling and really shows off the vocal talents of lead singer Yasmine Hamdan. The song starts out very sparse and about two minutes in, the beats start and you see where they are going. Hearing this track generated an excitement in me that had me all over the internet trying to find out anything about them. Their record label site has yet to launch, but lucky for all of us, they have a band site. Now, I could get carried away and keep taking about Yasmine, but there would not be a Soap Kills without her musical partner and writer Zeid Hamdan (no relation, just happy coincidence). The two of them started playing rock music together back in 1997 for private parties and small venues in Beirut. Then they discovered electronic music and their sound was born. Unfortunately, their 2005 release is hung up right now as the French label due to release it went under, but if you go to the band's site, you can purchase previous releases. I immediately downloaded their 2002 release Cheftak and can't stop listening to it. The music is spot on and the vocals are hypnotic! There sound is all that I love about downtempo. It's got the beats, vocals, acoustic elements and electronics that culminate in an essential blend of sounds and textures. If the world were a slightly different place, these two would be everywhere! It's not so easy to get your music heard in a place like Lebanon. They are also very adamant about not being associated with traditional Arab pop. They are more sophisticated and much less overt in their delivery. It is a chore to stay authentic and true to your musical goals in a country that is intolerant of anything considered alternative. They have had success in France and Germany, but need to reach more listeners. Let's hope the internet can help these two get the recognition and worldwide fans they so richly deserve.

Ok, so back to the Francophonie disc. The Soap Kills track plays out on the compilation and it is followed by a Lebanese hip-hop track! Kitaayoun starts up and we look at each other like we know a secret. It has all of the elements of American hip hop, with the addition of trippy vocals provided by YASMINE HAMDAN! This track is perfection, sadly it's all we can find from these four boys from the streets. Can't find a release or download anywhere at the moment, but I'm sure that will change. If you think we have alot to say in this country, just imagine what this group of street kids living in a place like Beirut convey. In reading about this group, you learn that their music is aggressive, dark and controversial and speaks of the social and political strife they have suffered in on the fringe in their country. Nothing new in the world of hip hop, but certainly edgy considering where they are performing! The underground seems to be shifting a bit there and many artists are trying to push any envelope they can in order to be heard. Last year saw the Fete de la Musique which brought out the best underground music the country has to offer. As Shermans learns more about them, we will spread the word. Perhaps learning to speak French might help in this quest!

Zeid Hamdan of Soap Kills, along with Khaled Mouzzanar and Omar Kabbabe have launched a new indie label called Mooz Records to help in getting this music out to the masses. They have compiled a cd called Lebanese Underground that showcases the finest the scene has to offer. It includes tracks by Scrambled Eggs, The New Government, Soap Kills, Kitaayoun, Lumi, Nadine Khouri and RGB. The label site is still under construction, but keep your eyes on it! Check out Indy Cult for some more info, as well! More to come on all of this great music!

Due to all of Sherman's musical globetrotting via the net, that's all we have today! More tomorrow! Over and out!!!

4 Comments:

Blogger jeremy said...

ooh, definitely have to check them out . . .

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Lebanese person said...

Hmmm, yeah lebanese underground scene is not bad, lol ;)I luv Nadine Khouri... And april ash also, cool :)
(All that I know, lol)

3:00 AM  
Blogger sherman jr. said...

Thanks for stopping by! If you ever hear anything you really love. Let Sherman know! Peace!

3:39 PM  
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