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Omar Souleyman

Syrian wedding singer Omar Souleyman specializes in a high-octane version of dabke, a traditional style of music performed during line dances at weddings and other celebrations. Souleyman is prolific. He and his band have recorded over 500 cassettes (mostly live recordings made at his wedding gigs) that have become a staple of music kiosks in major Syrian cities. 2007's Highway to Hassake, a compilation on the Sun City Girls' Sublime Frequencies label, was compiled from these many cassettes and caught the ears of critics and club-goers across the globe. Souleyman cuts a striking figure with his oversized sunglasses, mustache, and keffiyeh. He is best-known for his outlandish live performances, which are bizarre, carnivalesque affairs featuring breakneck techno stylings with pitch-shifted synths and brittle beats, and collaborators whispering poetry into Souleyman’s ear. He has played Glastonbury, All Tomorrow's Parties, and many other global festivals. His 2011 album, Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts, was placed in serious rotation among club-goers in Berlin, New York, and London, paving the way for his Four Tet-produced Wenu Wenu in 2013 that got attention across the globe. 2017's To Syria with Love signaled a markedly different approach, focusing on medium-boil dabke and ballads. Not much is known about Souleyman; his background is deliberately shrouded in mystery and self-made myth. He was born in 1966 (reportedly, but no one knows how old he actually is) in the village of Tell Tamer near the city of Ras al-Ayn in northeastern Syria, in Al-Hasakah Governorate. A Sunni, Souleyman has emphasized the influence of his region's culturally diverse milieu, e.g., Kurdish, Ashuri, Arabic, Turkish, and Iraqi. While details about his childhood and young adult life are unknown, his career as a wedding singer began in 1994 with a group of musicians he worked with for the next 20 years recording boatloads of cassettes -- essentially live recordings -- of his gigs. In 2007, U.S. label Sublime Frequencies issued Souleyman's Western world debut, a collection culled from cassette releases entitled Highway to Hassake. Dabke 2020 and Jazeera Nights followed in 2009 and 2010. Souleyman, whose music has become increasingly sampled by international DJs, began touring in Europe and the United States to large audiences. In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, he relocated to Turkey and lost most of his band. That year he was booked for a slot at the Glastonbury Festival, and was chosen by Caribou for All Tomorrow's Parties' Nightmare Before Christmas event. He issued more cassettes in Syria from his Western travels, and the compilation Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts on Sublime Frequencies. The album featured selections by Souleyman and his band performing across Europe, in Australia, and in the United States. Souleyman also remixed "Crystalline," from Björk's series of singles preceding the release of Biophilia; he recorded the cut "Mawal" as a B-side for the project. In October of 2013, he released Wenu Wenu, on Domino's Ribbon Music imprint. The set was produced by Four Tet's Kieran Hebden, and was Souleyman's first album to be primarily recorded in a Western studio. He played a widely celebrated set at the Bonnaroo Festival in 2013 and in December performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. Souleyman performed at Bonnaroo again the next year, as well as the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, at the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, in Birmingham, England, and at the One Love Festival in Istanbul in June. He and his band also performed sold-out concerts in Belgium, Ireland, and in Boise, Idaho. In October 2017 he performed at Bristol's Simple Things Festival and signed to Modeselektor's Monkeytown label, recording and releasing Bahdeni Nami in the summer of 2015. The album featured production collaborations with his label bosses as well as Hebden, Gilles Peterson, Legowelt, and Black Lips. Souleyman played the world's music festivals in support and toured both the U.K. and the U.S. extensively, but was not able to return to Syria due to its civil war. Homesick and moved by the plight of his people for peace, he began recording again in 2016. The electronic experiments of the previous few years influenced his new music profoundly, though he never wavered from his wild brand of dabke. He worked with producer/arranger Hasan Alo, who placed even more focus on elaborate electronic architectures with a significant techno slant. Lyrically, Souleyman continued to work with longtime collaborator Shawah Al Ahmad. The finished album, 2017's To Syria with Love, was thematically focused on an emotional connection to the land and its people; it expressed Souleyman's exile and heartache at the destruction and war that plague his country. The pre-release single, "Ya Bnayyah," was issued in April on Mad Decent with "Chobi" appearing in May. The full-length was released in early June. He toured the planet establishing himself as a canonical member of global electronic music community. In the late fall of 2019, Souleyman returned with the six-track album Shlon, a collection of dance tracks centered with Arabic lyrics of love and romance. Recorded in Turkey, he utilized the talents of new lyricist Moussa Al Mardood, alongside the stacks of keyboards played by Hasan Alo and the Turkish saz of Azad Salih. Souleyman's producer was his manager, Mina Tosti.
© Dave Shim /TiVo

Discografia

12 álbum(ns) • Ordenado por Mais vendidos

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