THE ARABIC ROOM
Mixtape album of all original works, veering into all sorts of musical genres. Exploration of Orientalist tropes so thick that Edward Sa3id is rolling in his grave.
This album originally began as a documentation of extended drum techniques, and due to an open timeframe and a propensity to include instruments obsessively picked up and learned over the years, it developed into a project with a more ambitious scope. I allowed the work to accumulate intentions and guiding principles, and it became rather autobiographical in nature. It eventually morphed into a critical meditation on variations of Orientalism practiced by Arabs themselves, as well as those who were born and raised within the diaspora....Some of the tracks here refer to locations or sounds I grew up with in Tripoli, Lebanon during the 1980s.
The "Arabic Room" of the title refers to the sitting room in my childhood home that was decked out in hyper orientalist exoticism, mashing together furniture, fixtures, paintings from all over the Arabic speaking world. The sitting room, or salon, is common in Lebanese homes made specifically to host and entertain guests. Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and other western made Orientalist cultural artifacts not only had ubiquitous presence in our house, but also found their way onto tv shows and commercials. After moving to the US, my parents recreated this room in their home. Additionally, my father's generation was one that saw their country transform from a post-agrarian trading society after WWII to a center of banking and finance within the span of a few decades. The sense of some lost Eden-like era of the interwar years permeated much of the media that was available to me growing up there. This album is meant as neither ironic nor as a judgmental pronouncement, but more as a form of critical nostalgia.
All instruments are performed by myself, (drums, Egyptian rababa, Azeri kamancheh, circuit bent electronics, keyboards, hammered dulcimer, and vocals). Genre-hopping is foundational to the album’s ethos; jazz, metal, experimental, electro-chaabi, and sound collage all appear within the framework of Arabic music, creating the sense of adventurous possibilities best associated with well curated mixtapes.