petak, 18. travnja 2014.

Yasmine Hamdan - Ya Nass (2013)

Libanonski indie electro-pop. I ja sam je prvi put čuio i vidio u Jarmuschevom filmu Only Lovers Left Alive. Previše svileno, ali ipak ambijentalno hipnotično.

Ya Nass is the debut solo album by Yasmine Hamdan, written and produced in collaboration with Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague). 
Yasmine became known with Soapkills, the duo she founded in Beyrouth, which must have been the first indie/electronic band to appear in the Middle East. The music of Soapkills quickly became the soundtrack to the vibrant, young arts scene which developed in postwar Lebanon, the band gradually acquired an emblematic status and, to this day, Yasmine is considered as an undergound icon throughout the Arab world.
Yasmine moved to Paris a few years ago, and started working with Mirwais (who was part of French electronic new wave band Taxi Girl in the 80s, and produced/co-wrote Madonna's "Music" as well as the "American Life" album). Under the Y.A.S. moniker, Yasmine and Mirwais recorded the "Arabology" album, which came out in 2009.
After collaborating with CocoRosie for a while, Yasmine teamed up with Nouvelle Vague mastermind Marc Collin to create this mesmerizing, self-titled opus. 

In order to write the melodies and the lyrics for these songs, Yasmine drew from the repertoire and the attitude of great Arab women singers from the middle of the 20th century, including some little-known or half-forgotten figures, such as Aisha El Marta, Nagat El Saghira, Asmahan, Shadia, Mounira El Mehdeyya and many more. Yasmine (who is an avid collector of records from that era) is inspired by these women, by the mischievous sensuality and the subtle, ironic social criticism which pervades their lyrics, and which is reminiscent of a period of freedom and emancipation in the history of Middle-Eastern societies. 
While Yasmine's vocals are definitely connected to traditions of Arabic music (to which she takes a personal, unconventional and fresh approach), the structures and arrangements of the songs are very remote from its codes. They might be described as a kind of elegant, mutant strain of electro folk pop, mysteriously springing from somewhere in the Persian Gulf… with acoustic guitars, vintage synths, spellbinding atmospheres and Yasmine's multi-faceted, wonderful voice. 

One element which may be lost to our Western ears is Yasmine's playful use of various dialects of Arabic in her lyrics, which alternate between Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Palestinian, Egyptian and Bedouin, and use a lot of the code-switching and references so typical of Middle-Eastern humour.
Alongside Yasmine Hamdan's voice and Marc Collin's keyboards & programming, "Ya Nass" is graced with some exquisite guitar work by Kevin Seddiki (who co-wrote three of the songs), and by former CocoRosie collaborator Gaël Rakotondrabe, who arranged and produced the song Enta Fen, Again.
Yasmine Hamdan has started performing her new repertoire in concert, with a band which includes Marc Collin and two other musicians. They've recently played several shows in Cairo, where the enthusiastic crowd reception and the intrigued media reactions confirmed the uniqueness of Yasmine status in the region.
Yasmine will appear in Jim Jarmusch's upcoming movie, she plays… herself, and is featured singing a song she wrote for the occasion ("Hal", which is featured in this album). Yasmine's tracks have repeatedly been used in films, sometimes with unexpected consequences: she met her husband, brilliant Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman, after he used two Soapkills tracks in his award-winning movie "Divine Intervention"…

If you think you know what Middle Eastern music sounds like, think again — because Beirut-born electro-pop singer Yasmine Hamdan is positioning herself in an incredibly interesting place. She's singing at the intersection of sexy electronica and iconic Arab tradition, fed in equal parts by PJ Harvey and the legendary Syrian-Egyptian vocalist Asmahan.   
Hamdan is the groundbreaking co-founder of the duo Soapkills, which was billed as the first indie electropop band in Lebanon, and certainly one of the first in the Middle East. Then, performing as Y.A.S., she collaborated with Mirwais Ahmadzaï (of Madonna's Music fame). Now performing under her own name, Hamdan has perfected a very particular kind of disaffected cool, like a less effortful Lana Del Rey, as you can see from the video we made with Hamdan at this year's edition of globalFEST in New York. It's no wonder that Jim Jarmusch cast this super-charismatic singer in his film Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, which is set to open in the U.S. next month.
On Ya Nass (Oh People), her first solo album released under her own name (available March 27), Hamdan uses sonic textures that will be very familiar to any lover of synths and guitars, with a vocal style to match — even if the language is not. Produced by Marc Collin, a French musician and producer probably best known as a founder of Nouvelle Vague, Ya Nass is universes away from "world music." Despite mixing original material and reworkings of old Arab songs, the closest Hamdan comes to exotica is in the fleeting, North African-tinged close to "Hal," a song she wrote for Jarmusch's film, which features polyrhythmic qaraqib brass castanets.          

Much of the material on Ya Nass is original, with a few surprises woven in. Hamdan often proclaims her love for iconic Arab singers of the 1920s through the '60s, and her track "La Mouch" is a smart, dark reworking of "Laa Mech Ana Elli Abki," a classic tango by the Egyptian legend Mohammed Abdel Wahab. He's an artist Hamdan has called "the love of her life."
Will it be detrimental to Hamdan's international career that this album is strictly bil arabiyya? That remains to be seen, but for Hamdan, it's an obviously deliberate choice to sing only in Arabic, rather than a more globally accessible English or even French. It's maybe even more of a statement for a singer from the comfortably polyglot Beirut, where English and French are just as common as Arabic. But Hamdan, whose childhood was splintered between Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece and who is now based in Paris, has chosen to use Arabic (which she sings in a variety of dialects) as a way of defining herself. And through her singular pairing of sound and language, she's opening up what it means to be an Arab artist today.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: An album out this week is drawing international attention to a hidden gem of the indie Arab music scene, Lebanese singer-songwriter Yasmine Hamdan. Her second album is called "Ya Nass." It showcases her hypnotic phrasing and modern take on traditional Middle Eastern sounds. And it's caught the ears of cultural taste-makers worldwide, from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch to NPR's Bob Boilen and Anastasia Tsioulcas.
ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS: She's super sleek, super modern. She's got the style that's backed by synths and drums and guitars. And I think she's really all about upturning everybody's assumptions about what Middle Eastern music could and should sound like.
BOB BOILEN, BYLINE: So that's a song called "Deny" off the new record, which you can always sense this deep tone, this vibe that she has. It's clear in all of the music she does.
TSIOULCAS: You know, she's new to American listeners and probably to most Europeans too. But she's been on the scene for a long, long time in the Middle East. She was one of the founders of - maybe even the only - indie electro pop outfit in the Middle East, a duo called Soapkill. She went on to work with Mirwais Ahmadzai, who produced Madonna's music album. So this is somebody who's coming from a very deep sense of who she is and who she wants to be.
BOILEN: And she's getting an awful lot of attention. I saw a YouTube video clip of her in a Jim Jarmusch movie that's coming out. "Only Lovers Left Alive" is the name of the movie. And she leaves everyone in this club scene that she's part of just speechless.
TSIOULCAS: Yeah, and that includes Tilda Swinton, who is one of the stars of the film. So let's hear her sing the song that she sings in this film. You'll kind of get it a sense of what that dark moodiness is all about
BOILEN: I find her music and her style of singing would fit so well into so many bands and club acts that I see these days who use electronica in their music. But there's a catch. She sings in Arabic.
TSIOULCAS: She is fluent in English. She is fluent in French. But she made a very conscious decision to sing exclusively in Arabic. And she also indulges in a lot of regional code switching in her songs - she switches between different dialects of Arabic.
I think it's really a very serious attempt to carve out an identity for herself as a female singer, as a female singer singing in Arabic, as a female singer singing in Arabic in a super-modern style. It's all these kind of layers and layers of meaning and depth.
BOILEN: Whether or not you understand these songs on the level that she sings them at, this is just an absolutely stunning record. And I'm totally taken by it. -

Yasmine Hamdan is a Lebanese singer, songwriter and actress, now based in Paris. She became known with Soapkills, the duo she founded with Zeid Hamdan (no relation) while she was still living in Beirut. The first album released by Soapkills was Bater (1999). Soapkills was one of the very first independent electronic bands in the Middle East, and its innovative approach exerted a lasting influence. To this day, Yasmine Hamdan is considered an icon of underground music across the Arab world.
After moving to Paris, Yasmine collaborated with CocoRosie. She teamed up with Mirwais (who was part of French electronic new wave band Taxi Girl in the 80s, and produced/co-wrote some of Madonna albums), with whom she recorded the Arabology album (2008), under the Y.A.S. moniker.
Yasmine Hamdan then joined forces with Marc Collin (Nouvelle Vague (band)) to write and produce her first, self-titled solo album, which came out in France and Lebanon in 2012 on Kwaidan Records), and is released internationally (in a revised version with five new tracks) in 2013 by Crammed Discs under the title Ya Nass. In this album, which blends pop, folk and electronic sounds with melodies and lyrics inspired by various Middle-Eastern traditions, Yasmine Hamdan "has undertaken the challenge of affirming and rewriting Arabic musical heritage", according to the Al-Akhbar paper. Her personal life (she has lived in Lebanon, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Greece and France) and her curiosity have enabled Yasmine Hamdan to playfully use various dialects of Arabic in her lyrics, which alternate between Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Palestinian, Egyptian and Bedouin, as well as some of the code-switching which is so typical of Middle-Eastern humour.[5][6][7]
Yasmine Hamdan is appearing in Jim Jarmusch's new movie Only Lovers Left Alive alongside Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. She has recently written an original soundtrack for the theatre play Rituel pour une métamorphose by Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous, for a production at Comédie Française. - wikipedia

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