First posted on echoesanddust.com.
Producer, musician and composer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh follows on with the physical releases of his Jerusalem In My Heart project with the release of his sophomore album effort ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’, featuring Moumneh and various guests on sound, and Charles-Andre Coderre tackling the visual components (including the album artwork). Following on from his 2013 debut album effort of ‘Mo7it Al-Mo7it’, Moumneh continues his efforts of combining traditional Arabic musical techniques and motifs into modern and experimental sounds, painting up a phenomenal and driving album experience expressing political and personal concepts. The core of Arabic performance styles run dominant throughout the album, much like the debut album, though this time much more deconstructed in places, combined with new and unusual techniques to create a challenging yet cohesive album experience.
‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ sees Moumneh really immersing himself into a musical project, using his many skills and techniques to really push forward a creative album effort. Anchored by traditional motifs, we see a truly Arabic album experience become morphed and re-designed into something both modern and new. By using experimental techniques, and a number of guest musicians including Pierre-Guy Blanchard (whose debut album on Constellation Moumneh recorded mixed and produced) on percussion, and Constellation Records founder Ian Ilavasky on guitar, Moumneh pushes forward a record that blurs the lines in terms of creating and approaching music. Western and Arabic music become parallel on the album, everything sounding incredibly cohesive, all complimenting and challenging each other at different turns.
From their evocative live performances to their challenging albums, Jerusalem In My Heart have shown great strength in their resolve to incorporate experimental techniques in a strong and understood way. Those familiar with Moumneh’s work, both as a producer and composer will most likely know of the almost inaccessible motifs of his many projects, and whilst this shows Moumneh as a wonderfully creative and expressive artist, it does result in ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ becoming an album that is limited to a very few people. With Moumneh’s constant challenging of music structure and technique, it’s no wonder why this album can feel so inaccessible at times.
Moumneh’s latest work is one that pushes forward the creative artists talents and techniques to great levels. The project’s debut album established an innovative act who had a clear understanding of what they want to achieve in their music. ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ shows the project as being even more ambitious and creative as their debut suggested, with there being great strides taken to really push forward a phenomenal and powerful album effort. Those who are open to music of an experimental nature, techniques that combine various cultures and differing genres will find ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ to be an incredibly pleasing and rewarding album, and one that definitely challenges for all the right reasons.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- A Granular Buzuk
- 7ebr El 3oyoun
- Ta3mani; Ta3meitu
- Ah Ya Mal El Sham
Jerusalem In My Heart’s second studio album ‘If He Dies, If If If If If If’ is out now on Constellation Records.