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Al-Qasar|Who Are We?

Who Are We?

Al-Qasar

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In a previous life, French musician and producer Thomas Attar Bellier lived in Los Angeles and played in a rock band called Blaak Heat. It was a stoner, desert-rock sort of band; the type that overheats its guitars and has the capacity to melt metal. After leaving the band and moving back to Paris, Thomas Attar Bellier retained his love for desert rock and his passion for North African music—something he’d infused into the last Blaak Heat albums (Shifting Mirrors and Arabian Fuzz). He went on to create Al-Qasar - a fusion band, in the best sense of the word - who perform true alchemy as opposed to surface level exoticism. After releasing Miraj in 2020 (their first mini-album that revisited the links between rock’s psychedelic/surf guitars and Arab music), Al-Qasar is back with Who Are We?. This album goes right back to the basics of stoner rock: full-bodied chords, trance rhythms and songs that tingle with energy and oscillate between feelings of oppression and release. There are a couple of VIP guests who feature on three tracks, namely guitarist Lee Ranaldo (ex-Sonic Youth) and legendary punk singer Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys), both of whom ensure this album oozes rock.


The influence of North African music is viscerally present throughout the album: in its form, in Jaouad El Garouge’s mesmerising voice, in Mehdi Addab’s complex oud melodies, and in the female vocals provided by Alsarah and Hend Elrawy. The hypnotic and mystical power of Arab music is multiplied tenfold when combined with rock, never ceasing its search for its African roots. This sort of quest is nothing new: it began over 50 years ago when rock stars began embarking on pilgramages to Essaouira, then it continued in France with Rachid Taha, and later returned to the desert with Tinariwen... Al-Qasar brings this story into the modern day. There’s no pretense, just a pure passion for combining two worlds. You don’t need a degree in ethnomusicology to appreciate this intense album and fall into a trance: perfect for anyone who loves dancing until they break out into a sweat and the world around them disappears. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz

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Who Are We?

Al-Qasar

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1
Awtar Al Sharq
00:02:35

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Lee Ranaldo, Guitar, FeaturedArtist - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, SoundEngineer

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

2
Awal
00:06:24

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Lee Ranaldo, Guitar, FeaturedArtist - Jaouad El Garouge, LeadVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Keyboards, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

3
Ya Malak
00:07:43

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - Jello Biafra, FeaturedArtist, LeadVocals - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Jaouad El Garouge, LeadVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Saz, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

4
Hobek Thawrat
00:06:40

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Alsarah, FeaturedArtist, LeadVocals - Jaouad El Garouge, BackgroundVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Saz, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

5
Sham System
00:04:35

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Jaouad El Garouge, Percussion - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Saz, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

6
Barbès Barbès
00:06:39

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - Mehdi Haddab, Oud, FeaturedArtist - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Jaouad El Garouge, LeadVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

7
Benzine
00:04:33

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Jaouad El Garouge, LeadVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Saz, SoundEngineer - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

8
Mal Wa Jamal
00:05:12

Alain Johannes, MixingEngineer - dave collins, MasteringEngineer - Jaouad El Garouge, LeadVocals - Nicolas Derolin, Percussion - Al-Qasar, MainArtist - Thomas Attar Bellier, Composer, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Keyboards, Saz, SoundEngineer - Hend Elrawy, FeaturedArtist, LeadVocals - Paul Void, Drums - Guillaume Théoden, BassGuitar

2022 Glitterbeat Records 2022 Glitterbeat Records

Album Description

In a previous life, French musician and producer Thomas Attar Bellier lived in Los Angeles and played in a rock band called Blaak Heat. It was a stoner, desert-rock sort of band; the type that overheats its guitars and has the capacity to melt metal. After leaving the band and moving back to Paris, Thomas Attar Bellier retained his love for desert rock and his passion for North African music—something he’d infused into the last Blaak Heat albums (Shifting Mirrors and Arabian Fuzz). He went on to create Al-Qasar - a fusion band, in the best sense of the word - who perform true alchemy as opposed to surface level exoticism. After releasing Miraj in 2020 (their first mini-album that revisited the links between rock’s psychedelic/surf guitars and Arab music), Al-Qasar is back with Who Are We?. This album goes right back to the basics of stoner rock: full-bodied chords, trance rhythms and songs that tingle with energy and oscillate between feelings of oppression and release. There are a couple of VIP guests who feature on three tracks, namely guitarist Lee Ranaldo (ex-Sonic Youth) and legendary punk singer Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys), both of whom ensure this album oozes rock.


The influence of North African music is viscerally present throughout the album: in its form, in Jaouad El Garouge’s mesmerising voice, in Mehdi Addab’s complex oud melodies, and in the female vocals provided by Alsarah and Hend Elrawy. The hypnotic and mystical power of Arab music is multiplied tenfold when combined with rock, never ceasing its search for its African roots. This sort of quest is nothing new: it began over 50 years ago when rock stars began embarking on pilgramages to Essaouira, then it continued in France with Rachid Taha, and later returned to the desert with Tinariwen... Al-Qasar brings this story into the modern day. There’s no pretense, just a pure passion for combining two worlds. You don’t need a degree in ethnomusicology to appreciate this intense album and fall into a trance: perfect for anyone who loves dancing until they break out into a sweat and the world around them disappears. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz

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