Record Reviews

New Music Alert | Africa Express Presents: The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests Live Release

New live album release today (now streaming and available via Google play) December 9th, 2016

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests
Transgressive Records

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Sisters Dissonance, as you may or may not already know, first became a thing almost 10 years ago when Ady and I combined our travels to see live music performances with our desire to document those experiences and the adventures that occurred along the way. Our driving force is and always has been to make our own fun together.

A beautiful and somewhat unexpected natural byproduct of this thing called Sis Diss, we discovered, has been the human factor. It is the connections we continue to make with people all over the world in the process of our endeavor–the artists and musicians, the fellow fans and music heads, and all of the other people whose orbits have crossed paths with ours one way or another–that is the most rewarding part of Sis Diss of all.

And so, in a world that alarmingly feels like it is becoming more and more closed, increasingly divided and in turmoil, Ady and I strive to find our place among another reality that exists. This is a reality populated with a contingent of human beings around the globe that are steadfast in countering negativity, prejudice and division by purposefully reaching out, by bringing others together, and by working toward breaking down barriers not creating new ones. A reality filled with those who are mindful of their fellow humans. Often music and art is at the center of these efforts. This is the world we at Sis Diss seek to dwell in.

It is this mindset that brings to mind a show we saw last summer, The Orchestra Of Syrian Musicians in London England. No, I was not there in person, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, through a live broadcast on YouTube, I was able to watch virtually with my sister in Philly and my friend Gina in Minneapolis, from my own living room in Cleveland as together we live tweeted and texted during throughout show. We felt part of it. London/Cleveland/Philly/Minneapolis joined in along with the thousands of others across the globe tuned in together, interacting with the folks at Africa Express themselves, who made it feel like a global party. We were there for another beautiful coming together – something that Africa Express has a knack for doing on a grand scale, this time through the collaboration of Syrian musicians and countless others who joined them.

Flash forward to three days ago when I received a message from Africa Express to say that I had won an album from Benin artists Poly-Rhythmo in yet another effort by Africa Express to connect the world through music and spread it to the world. Thrilled to bits to be a recipient, as a rabid fan of music from all over the world thanks to the introduction by a professor in a ethnomusicology class I took in college back in the early 90’s, I anxiously await expanding my musical horizons even more, and I thank Africa Express for the opportunity! I will share my thoughts on that album soon to continue the spiral of positive energy.

This brings me full circle to today, and the point of this post . . . to  continue the reciprocity and join in spreading the musical love as Africa Express celebrate the release day of the resulting album of the The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Guests.

Following a series of acclaimed dates in the UK and Europe this summer, Africa Express today announces the release of a live album entitled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests. The recordings were made in June when The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, featuring current and former members of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, came together for the first time since the conflict in their country flared up five years ago. They were joined by artists from Britain, Syria, Algeria, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia and the United States including Bashy, Bassekou Kouyaté, Bu Kolthoum, Damon Albarn, Eslam Jawaad, Faia Younan, Julia Holter, Malikah, Mounir Troudi, Noura Mint Seymali, Paul Weller, Rachid Taha and Seckou Keita.  

 

Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests will be available on CD, with a digital download/stream available via Google Play Music beginning today. An LP vinyl edition will follow in 2017.

Full tracklisting here:

1          Intro  – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

2          3azely – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

3          Wild Wood – Paul Weller & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

4          Yah Mahla El Fus’ha – Faia Younan & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

5          Out Of Time – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

6          Rakeb 3al Hamra – Mounir Troudi & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

7          Feel You – Julia Holter & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

8          Al Ajaleh – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Bassekou Kouyaté & Seckou Keita

9          Blackbird – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Damon Albarn & Paul Weller

10        Old Damascus – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

11        Richa  – Noura Mint Seymali & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

12        White Flag – Damon Albarn & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians feat. Eslam Jawaad, Malikah, Ceza & Bu Kolthoum

13        Ya Rayeh – Rachid Taha & The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

14        Oghneyat Men Baladi – The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

For more information visit www.africaexpress.co.uk and   www.transgressiverecords.com

https://play.google.com/store/music/album?id=Bgn3ryyqz6tx474rjf4tvmwsnym

The full concert from the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre London from June 25, 2016 can be viewed here:

 

 

 

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Night Windows Q & A with Ben Hughes

nightwindows_coffeeNight Windows Review and Q & A with  Ben Hughes

 

Night Windows the band envisioned, created and executed by Ben Hughes alone has released its debut LP Musicassette/Magnetic Memory. I’ve sat with the album on several occasions listening to the sounds, the lyrics, the melodies,  and the composition and I like it. In learning about this new band, I’ve also learned a few things about myself. The first thing I do when I listen to a new band, or artist is to try to figure out who the influences are and secondly I listen to the lyrics– carefully. As for the influences, we all have them, we can’t get away from our roots, and where our musical footprints have derived from. For Night Windows I hear a few I recognize, but it is balanced out with a healthy dose of Ben’s own sound to create Musicassette/Magnetic Memory which is evident and testimonial to talent.

Listening to Musicassettte/Magnetic Memory took me on what I like to think of  as a music journey.  I got the feelings of personal discovery through the tracks along with many different stories to tell. Often themes of personal struggle with the human condition and just making it by in the world– in a sometimes first and sometimes third person experience, so much so I can’t quite tell if Ben’s talking about himself or someone else.

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There’s a Friend of Mine carries an islandish sound with strumming patterns and vocal sounds that has a familiar type of feel in such a subtle way that it’s almost new all at once (if that could make any sense).  My favorite track on the album is Home, which takes the listener inward with the minor key and lyrics.

I could continue to review each song individually, speculate on influence and genere, but I won’t!  I will just say that Ben is a chameleon with his vocals- something I like most about a singer and respect due to the complexity and skill that requires.  He’s capable of adapting his voice to each song to give the song the feeling he’s striving for that you hear in the lyrics. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Musicassette/Magnetic Memory I suggest you check it out here!

Night Windows will play at Ortleib’s Saturday the 21st @6pm. GO see!

Read the Q & A interview that Ady had a chance to do below.

June 18, 2014 Interview with Ben Hughes of Night Windows

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 Ady: You recently released your debut LP Musicassette/Magnetic Memory.   What was it like to go through the process of writing and recording a full length release in your bedroom? I did read that you created this body of work all from    your bedroom? 

 Ben: The process of writing and recording Musicassette/Magnetic Memory was a lot of    
things. It was a triumph one day, a defeat the next. It was a real learning experience. I have been making albums from my bedroom since 2005, but this was the first one that I knew I’d actually release. I had a better recording set up (thanks to my friends for teaming up and buying me a new set up for my birthday), more space to work with (a music room and a garage), and more instruments at my disposal. 
I’d wake up early and record before work, and then get right back to it when I got home. Then when I was done recording all of the songs, I started the mixing and mastering phase of the production. This was the most difficult for me, because I had a lot more tools to use and wasn’t sure how to use them. Ryan Buzby (longtime friend and bandmate) kind of coached me along through the process, so that helped out a lot.
As for what you read about the bedroom studio, it was a bedroom down the hall from mine that I labeled the Music Room 170.
Ady: What about your debut release are you most satisfied about?

Ben: I’d have to say that I am most satisfied that I made it through the process without losing my initial vision for the album. It was really cool to hear it all come together the way that I imagined at the beginning of the process. 

Well, I did shave 5 songs off of the album, because I am not generally a fan of long albums, and it seemed more focused and stronger without the 5 songs that I cut out. Plus, now I have 5 unreleased songs from the Musicassette sessions that I can either use as singles or an EP, so it all worked out.

Ady: Where is the name Night Windows from?

Ben: Night Windows is a song from The Weakerthans album Reunion Tour (One of my favorite albums). I looked everywhere for a fitting name for this project and Night Windows just felt right to me. 

Ady: As you know, Sisters Dissonance is all about the live show. when will Night Windows hit the road to play some gigs?

Ben: We are booking some shows from mid July to late August in the tri-state area. I’ll keep you posted!

Ady: What advice can you give to rising musicians? Especially those that are from the NJ/Philly area?

Ben: Don’t rely on gimmicks, don’t be an asshole, develop a good filter (friends, bandmates, etc), and most of all, focus on the songs.

Ady: And lastly the Sisters Dissonance question no one can escape:  If you were a superhero what would your super hero name be and what power would you possess? 

Ben: Well, it’s kind of funny — I once dubbed myself Consumption Man after a day of heavy eating and drinking, so as much as I’d hate to have that be my super hero name, I might have to go with it. Consumption Man possesses the power to consume anything and everything in sight! All for the greater good? lol