Jerusalem in My Heart, originally
an audio-visual project concocted in Montreal by
Lebanese singer and buzuk player Radwan Moumneh with
filmmaker Erin Weisgerber,
became Moumneh's vehicle for his reimagination of classical Arabic music.
Mo7it al-mo7it (Constellation, 2013) contains a
ten-minute solo for a plucked instrument, 3andalib Al-furat/ Nightingale of the Euphrates,
and the intensely dramatic, almost theatrical, nine-minute chant with buzuk Amanem.
Some of the shorter pieces are even more emotional:
the ghostly litany Yudaghdegh El-ra3ey Walal-Ghanam,
the vibrant, almost punkish, instrumental Ko7l El-3ein 3emian El-3ein
and the tragic combination of
moribund echoed vocals and wall of drones in 3anzah Jarbanah.
Suuns and Jerusalem in My Heart (2015) was a mediocre
collaboration with Montreal's psych-rockers Suuns.
If He Dies If If If If If If (Constellation, 2015) is a mix blessing.
The experimental pieces mostly disappoint, with the notable exception of
the frenzied, pulsating crescendo of A Granular Buzuk (a duet with guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui).
The invocation over synth drones of 7ebr El 3oyoun/ Ink From the Eyes (with a coda of jamming with percussionist Pierre-Guy Blanchard and guitarist Ian Ilavsky) is not particularly involving, the piece for
buzuk and electronic distortion (Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa/ To Me He Said Enough Enough Enough Enough Enough Enough) is childish, and
the piece with the drum machine
(Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz/ What If the Hijaz Was Enough) sounds like a sellout to world dance music.
The real pathos comes with the
solo buzuk piece 2asmar Sa7ar/ The Brown One Cast a Spell against the backdrop of ocean waves and with the more
spartan invocations of Ta3mani Ta3meitu/ He Fed Me I Fed Him (with only buzuk) and especially Ah Ya Mal El Sham/ Oh the Money of Syria (with Bansuri flute).
Daqa'iq Tudaiq/ Minutes that Oppress (Constellation, 2018) is mostly
devoted to a 20-minute orchestral version of Mohammed Abdel Wahab's classic Ya Jarata Al Wadi,
retitled Wa Ta'atalat Loughat Al Kalam,
a collaboration with
and a 15-piece Lebanese orchestra. The first two movements are not too different from conventional Arabic pop music, but the third (instrumental) movement feels like a more adventurous rethinking of Arabic motives.
More adventurous are the shorter pieces: Bein Ithnein, a surrealistic
percussive piece built around a locomotive beat;
the slow-motion Thahab Mish Roujou' Thahab for processed voice, buzuk and electronics;
and the raga-like buzuk solo Layali Al-Rast.