Dance music today. KIDS today. It’s all Skrillex [wub wub wub]. Or it’s that awful song about the guy who “w-w-w-w-work[s] OUT” that’s supposed to sound “tongue-in-cheek” but is just an endless blitz of douchebombs. People, we all know this schlock isn’t the future of dance music. So, what is? Could it be… new wave electronic dabke?
What’s a new wave electronic dabke, you ask? Well, envision Omar Souleyman locked in a recording studio with Duran Duran. Nah, scratch that. Just imagine Omar Souleyman-style jams, as he’s the maestro with whom most Westerners are probably familiar. And if that’s not working for you, imagine this: a synth-infused take on the hypnotic, special-occasion party music (think weddings, etc.) traditional to the Levantine Middle East. Dabke is characterized by the use of the mejwiz (a double-reed bamboo flute), hand percussion, and vocal chants, and it’s the jam du jour of for Syrians, Bedouins, Palestinians, Jordanians, and Druze in the Houran region in the south of Syria and the northwest of Jordan. And now the good people at Sham Palace have compiled their favorite dabke tracks culled from cassettes and discs recorded during the 90s-00s and sold throughout the Houran region, putting them all onto a nice, shiny new LP called Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran that’s sure to rock your socks off and tie up your dancin’ shoes.
Dabke is the second release (after a Souleyman 2xLP) for Sham Palace, the label run by Mark Gergis, the man behind several Middle Eastern/Southeast Asian collections for the always amazing Sublime Frequencies label. Fun fact: Gergis is the man who introduced the much-ballyhooed Omar Souleyman to the West after seeing him perform in Syria in 1997. He arranged/produced Souleyman’s collabos with Icelandic pixie genius Björk last year. Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran hits stores on June 19 and is limited to a pressing of 1,000 copies.
A1. Ahmad Al Kosem, “Love Is Not a Joke”
A2. Mohamed Al Ali, “Mili Alay (Sway to Me)”
A3. Abu Sultan, “Your Love Made My Head Hurt”
B1. Ahmad Al Kosem, “Ma Dal Anouh (I Will Grieve Until I See Her Again)”
B2. Abu Wafsi, “Deg Deg Dagdeglo”
B3. Obeid Al Jum’aa, ” Instrumental Mejwiz”
B4. Faraj Kadah/Ashraf Abu Leil, “Afrah Houran (Houran Weddings)”
• Sham Palace: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sham-Palace/108672552579925