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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Omar Souleyman: Erbil Album Overview

It’s been a turbulent few years for dabke-techno king Omar Souleyman. In 2021 the Syrian singer was arrested in Urfa, the town in southeastern Turkey the place he had been dwelling and working a bakery since escaping Syria’s civil conflict in 2011. Accused of being a member of the Syrian Kurdish Folks’s Safety Items (YPG) militia, which authorities in Ankara take into account a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Employees’ Get together (PKK), Souleyman was held for somewhat over 24 hours earlier than being launched with out prices.

Other than pertaining to themes of exile on latest albums, Souleyman’s music has by no means been overtly political (a alternative that has typically drawn criticism from fellow Syrians). However rising up as a Sunni Arab in Syria’s culturally various al-Hasakah area, he absorbed Kurdish, Assyrian, and even Turkish and Iraqi influences, usually singing in Kurdish and collaborating with Kurdish artists, comparable to his former longtime keyboard participant Rizan Sa’id. Since leaving Turkey after his arrest, Souleyman has discovered a brand new residence in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish Area, and it’s to this historic metropolis—which, in distinction to the repressive regime in Turkey, provided him solace amid its various cultural milieu—that he dedicates his fifth studio album.

Erbil, his third full-length for Diplo’s Mad Respectable (and one among over 500 albums general, in the event you consider the lore), celebrates the brand new experiences and friendships that Souleyman encountered there. For non-Arabic audio system that’s laborious to know, as a result of the label provides no lyrics or translations—a notable omission, contemplating Souleyman’s worldwide viewers. However in a approach this follows the identical patterns which have characterised his trajectory since he was first plucked from relative obscurity in Syria and introduced to the remainder of the world. For a lot of, Souleyman often is the solely dabke artist they ever come throughout. Decontextualized and inscrutable behind his darkish sun shades, he tasks an aura of unknowability and distance.

Since Souleyman’s worldwide breakthrough in 2007 with Chic Frequencies’ compilation Freeway to Hassake, he’s amassed tons of of tens of millions of YouTube views and develop into the face of dabke within the Western world, collaborating with a diversified bunch of artists, from Björk to Gorillaz and 4 Tet. On Erbil, he sticks to the time-tested components that has propelled him up to now: his emotion-filled baritone gliding over a cascade of whirling saz strains, (principally) digital simulations of devices comparable to oud, mijwiz, and arghul, and rock-solid, trance-inducing beats.

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