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Beirut Drone Duets

Seven pairings courtesy of Ruptured Records


The definition of drone on the first volume of Ruptured Records’ The Drone Sessions gets pushed, challenged, and, in the end, enriched over the course of the set’s seven tracks. Each is a duet, 14 participants in all with none repeated. It opens with a mix of throttled, soft-attack keyboard sounds paired with inhumanly extended vocals, heavenly choir as manifest in a machine, and utterly gorgeous. That’s Fadi Tabbal and Julia Sabra’s “Roots.” Elsewhere, Charbel Haber and Sary Moussa bring a shimmery glitch to “And Yet Another Romance on a Sinking Ship,” while on “Woe to Him,” Sharif Sehnaoui and Tony Elieh emphasize string instruments, what appears to be an acoustic bass particularly prominent, such that the track is only drone-like in its adherence to a repetitive, underlying rhythm (it eventually explodes into a raucous noise).

Which is not only fine but kind of wonderful. Rather than parse out one held tone after another, The Drone Sessions uses the tension between artistic voices in combination with widely varied approaches to explore a far richer palette than an album with this title might have otherwise. All but one of the musicians is Lebanese, the exception being Aya Metwalli, who is Egyptian. Ruptured, the label, is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and the session itself was a collaboration with Nathan Larson, his Lumen Project inspiring the pairing inherent in the lineup.

The other performers are Jad Atoui, Liliane Chlela, Nadia Daou (aka NÂR), Ziad Moukarzel, Jawad Nawfal, Anthony Sahyoun, and Elyse Tabet. “Courbe Lisse,” Tabet and Nawfal’s more traditional drone, is an epic, nearly 12-minute expanse, and how it veers from gossamer pleasure to rougher terrain is one of the album’s many highlights.

All the music was recorded live over the course of two sessions back in November 2020 at the Beirut studio Tunefork. Album originally posted at rupturedthelabel.bandcamp.com. It was released back on March 19 of this year.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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One Comment

  1. Ziad Nawfal
    [ Posted April 23, 2021, at 11:37 pm ]

    Thank you for this review, dear Marc. We are grateful. hugs from Beirut x Ziad

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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