Today marks the release of Subject to Potential Errors and Distortions, the fifth solo album by Lebanese musician Fadi Tabbal. From the pointillist delays of “On the Escape Boat” to the lush, cavernous drone of “Triptych Photography,” it’s a beautiful collection of music that at once is emblematically peaceful and yet also vibrates with an undeniable substratal energy.
This post is a premiere, thanks to the invitation of the Portland-based label Beacon Sound, which has co-released the album with Ruptured Music, a label in Beirut, where Tabbal lives. Subject to Potential Errors and Distortions is structured around a trio of tracks, each titled “The New and Improved Guide to Birdwatching” (“Vol. 1,” “Vol. 2,” and “Vol. 3”). They take as their source material for transmuting not birdsong but a human voice. The voice belongs to Julia Sabra of the band Postcards. Instead of dreamy pop music, though, here her singing is pure dream: sweet, ethereal syllables that Tabbal each time through contorts with textural processing.
A deeper voiced, and more choral, approach energizes “Ceremony by the Sea,” which introduces a gorgeous melodic line: part French horn, part fog horn. If there is a palpable intensity to the music overall, that may be owed to a doubling of pressures. The record was created by Tabbal during the period of Covid-19 self-quarantine, and done so in a city that suffers from untold external and internal political and economic forces.