Jerusalem In My Heart: Daqa’iq Tudaiq (Constellation)

Enthralling second album from Montréal-Beirut collaboration

Released Oct 5th, 2018 via Constellation / By Norman Miller
Jerusalem In My Heart: Daqa’iq Tudaiq (Constellation) This is the third outing from the engagingly-named Montréal-Beirut avant-garde Arabic-electronic project, led by musician and producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Suuns, Matana Roberts, Big Brave) - three years after 2015’s acclaimed full-length If He Dies, If If If If If If. But it's been worth the wait for more of JIMH's unique engagement between electronics and Arabic/Middle-Eastern traditions.

Fusing voice, electronics and the jangling strings of buzuk, the album is split into two distinctive parts. A big chunk of its 37-minute length is taken up by the four part 25-minute Wa Ta'atalat Loughat Al Kalam (side one for vinyl buyers), which realises Moumneh's long-held dream to record a modern orchestral version of the popular Egyptian classic Ya Garat Al Wadi by the legendary composer Mohammad Abdel Wahab.

Teamed with a 15-piece orchestra assembled in Beirut and led by Montreal-based Egyptian composer Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush), its four parts are anchored by a hypnotic melange of mallet and percussion instruments (riq, santur, derbakeh, kanun), unfolding lush, reverb-drenched flows through Maqam shifts (Oriental scales), woven with Moumneh’s sonorous vocals.

The music is underpinned by the poignant retitling of the track, recasting the 1920s classic lyrics by poet Ahmad Shawqi – his original title Oh Neighbour Of The Valley now fashioned into a 21st century incarnation as The Language Of Speech Has Broke Down.

The album's second half features four tracks of non-ensemble “solo” material by Moumneh which push rupture and rapture in equal measure. The loop-driven Bein Ithnein (“Between Two” ) is a thrilling fusion of Kosmische keyboards and Arabic strings, while Layali Al-Rast breathlessly explores buzuk virtuosity like a Middle Eastern take on legendary guitar plucker Leo Kottke.

There's a potent air of darkness to the processed vocal track Thahab, Mish Roujou', Thahab (The Act Of Departing, Not Returning, Departing), a mash of deep electro growls and rhythmic skitters, which gives way to the simpler, more pure traditional sounds of the closing Kol El'Aalam O'young – like a balm after the storm.

The title Daqa'iq Tudaiq translates as “minutes that bother/oppress/harass” - but this is music that often simply enthralls. 8/10