7 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Omar Souleyman captures the essence of Syrian pop music. Wenu Wenu is steeped in traditional rhythms and instruments, rich with the essence and soul of his home country. Springing from a genre of traditional dance music called dabke—a type of line folk dancing popular in many Middle Eastern countries—the music bounces and bubbles, moving with a rapid grace and kind of euphoria. Just as Western electronic pop pulls listeners to the dance floor like a magnet, so does Souleyman’s brand of Syrian party music. Using synthesizers in addition to the hummingbird-like oud notes and sparkling and thunking percussion instruments (and a delightfully rubbery tablah), Souleyman uses his voice like another instrument; it’s husky and sharp and earthy, though on tracks like the more languid “Mawal Jamar” he softens his delivery into something more inviting. The energy here is palpable; it's reportedly quite accurate in representing Souleyman’s exuberant, somewhat overwhelming live performances. The man is a legend in Syria; this is his first proper studio recording after years of bootleg cassettes and live recordings, and he brought his entourage to Brooklyn to do it.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Omar Souleyman captures the essence of Syrian pop music. Wenu Wenu is steeped in traditional rhythms and instruments, rich with the essence and soul of his home country. Springing from a genre of traditional dance music called dabke—a type of line folk dancing popular in many Middle Eastern countries—the music bounces and bubbles, moving with a rapid grace and kind of euphoria. Just as Western electronic pop pulls listeners to the dance floor like a magnet, so does Souleyman’s brand of Syrian party music. Using synthesizers in addition to the hummingbird-like oud notes and sparkling and thunking percussion instruments (and a delightfully rubbery tablah), Souleyman uses his voice like another instrument; it’s husky and sharp and earthy, though on tracks like the more languid “Mawal Jamar” he softens his delivery into something more inviting. The energy here is palpable; it's reportedly quite accurate in representing Souleyman’s exuberant, somewhat overwhelming live performances. The man is a legend in Syria; this is his first proper studio recording after years of bootleg cassettes and live recordings, and he brought his entourage to Brooklyn to do it.

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