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Highway to Hassake: Folk & Pop Sounds of Syria

Omar SouleymanAudio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Price: $16.98 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Amazon Price New from Used from
MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 2012 $6.99  
Audio CD, 2007 $16.98  
Vinyl, 2009 --  

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 20, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sublime Frequencies
  • ASIN: B000N3AW34
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,376 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Leh Jani [When I Found Out]
2. Jani [She Came to Me]
3. Dabke 2001
4. Atabat
5. Arabic Dabke
6. Alkhatiba Zaffouha
7. Jalsat Atabat [Atabat Session]
8. Alshikhani
9. Toul al Zeenah
10. Bashar Ya Habib al Shaab
11. Don't Wear Black, Green Suits You Better
12. Atabat, Pt. 2
13. Jani, Pt. 2

Editorial Reviews

Omar Souleyman is a Syrian musical legend. Since 1994, he and his musicians have emerged as a staple of folk-pop throughout Syria, but until now they have remained little known outside of the country. To date, they have issued more than five-hundred studio and live-recorded cassette albums which are easily spotted in the shops of any Syrian city. Born in rural northeastern Syria, he began his musical career in 1994 with a small group of local collaborators that remain with him today. The myriad musical traditions of the region are evident in their music. Here, classical Arabic mawal-style vocalization gives way to high-octane Syrian dabke (the regional folkloric dance and party music), Iraqi choubi and a host of Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish styles, among others. This amalgamation is truly the sound of Syria. The music often has an overdriven sound consisting of phase-shifted Arabic keyboard solos and frantic rhythms. At breakneck speeds, these shrill Syrian electronics play out like forbidden Morse-code, but the moods swing from coarse and urgent to dirgy and contemplative in the rugged anthems that comprise Souleyman's repertoire. Oud, reeds, baglama saz, accompanying vocals and percussion fill out the sound from track to track. Mahmoud Harbi is a long-time collaborator and the man responsible for much of the poetry sung by Souleyman. Together, they commonly perform the "Ataba," a traditional form of folk poetry used in Dabke. On stage, Harbi chain smokes cigarettes while standing shoulder to shoulder with Souleyman, periodically leaning over to whisper the material into his ear. Acting as a conduit, Souleyman struts into the audience with urgency, vocalizing the prose in song before returning for the next verse. Souleyman's first hit in Syria was Jani (1996) which gained cassette-kiosk infamy and brought him recognition throughout the country. Sublime Frequencies is honored to present the Western debut of Omar Souleyman with this retrospective disc of studio and live recordings spanning 12 years of his career, culled from cassettes recorded between 1994 and 2006. This collection offers a rare glimpse into Syrian street-level folk-pop and Dabke -- a phenomena seldom heard in the West, not previously deemed serious enough for export by the Syrians and rarely, if ever, included on the import agenda of worldwide academic musical committees.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If at first..... May 3, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I had been warned - this music takes time to grow on you. So, all the way from Dubai to London on Emirate's A380 Airbus, I had ample time to get acquainted - enough to buy the CD. My absolute favourite tracks are the slow, almost hypnotic Atabat with it's thumping beat. But given time some of the other tracks start to snuggle up close and haunt you. As with much World music (in my opinion), the music is fantastic - until the fat lady starts to sing! Omar Souleyman doesn't swamp the tracks and without him we wouldn't have this gem.I might have enjoyed his music wall to wall more if he hadn't sung but I'm still glad I found him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars insanely awewsome January 25, 2008
Format:Audio CD
Having been a fan of the SF label's "I remember syria", I was pleased to see this on their ever-expanding menu. This has got to be the the most amazing party music that I've come across since hearing ivo papasov back in '89. the instrumentation is diverse on the label, but it all sounds like microtonal phaser swirl (that's a good thing!). basically, if you want to get your party started "bedouin style", pick this up. hell, knowing the way the "world dance" fad is going, M.I.A. will probably record with mr. souleyman on her next album, and you'll be hearing this stuff at the local club sandwiched between old school egyptian lover and the latest reggaeton banger...
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