DUBAI: Arab News highlights the independent Arab records you were due to listen to in 2021.

Rasha nahas ‘Desert’

Palestinian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rasha Nahas debut album is an artistic hit. The Haifa-born Berlin musician is a powerful talent – a classically trained guitarist whose soft voice is anything but indicative of the storm of emotions she unleashes with her often electrifying performances. “Desert” immediately shows that Nahas has been sculpting his textured and meticulously thought-out sound for years. It oscillates between ethereal atmospheres evoked by diaphanous string arrangements and haunting performances by Nahas on guitar, deliciously evocative lines like “My heart is bleeding quarter-tone” and theatrical and playful cabaret influences. Overall, the record is a successful debut album by an artist that carries immense promise, depth and intensity.

Postcards “After the fire, before the end”

With the exception of the irresistible guitar riff that cuts through the effervescent opening “Mother Tongue”, the Beirut-based trio spend much of their third LP refining the delicate dream-pop alchemy of their slow-burning instrumentation and drenched in delay and singer Julia Sabra crystal clear and reverberated voice. It’s a gripping exploration of a dark night of the soul – an appropriate sonic backdrop for the event that inspired the song’s writing. Sabra was with her partner, drummer Pascal Semerdjian, when he was nearly fatally injured in the catastrophic explosion in the Lebanese capital in August 2020. Deep scars from their collective trauma slide through the album like an icy wind, punctuated by uncompromising resilience. survivors determined to continue. Postcards become another powerful and provocative version.

Tamara Qaddoumi “Soft Glitch” (EP)

While his debut EP “Dust Bathing” in 2018 was a straightforward pop affair that nonetheless struck a captivating chord with its melodic lyrical passages and opulent harmonies, Qaddoumi’s flair for haunting work is more evident on this year’s follow-up. . The fascinating story of the Kuwaiti-born singer – she had a Palestinian, Lebanese and Scottish education, and studied physical theater and theater – is an indelible feature of her multifaceted approach to her art. “Soft Glitch” shines with a spectral current of trip-hop, lush electronic landscapes and the hypnotic voice of Qaddoumi. The videos that accompanied the release are also elaborate and imaginative treatments of ideas emanating from a creative mind that ventures far beyond the conventional.

The Synaptik ‘Al Qamar Wal Moheet’

It has been a year of transformation for Palestinian-Jordanian rapper, singer and lyricist Laith Al Husseini – aka The Synaptik. “Al Qamar Wal Moheet” (in Arabic for “The Moon and the Ocean”) is a formidable artistic journal of introspection, introspection and enormous self-initiated personal change. After graduating from medical school, moving to Ramallah, and giving up his lifetime use of Ritalin, an ADHD drug, the rhyme master used this record to reconcile the extreme discrepancy between who he was and who he was. he became. The result is a cerebral, anti-conformist hip-hop / trap record that ingeniously pivots around elements of R&B, pop and mainstream Palestinian music, while bearing the unmistakable mark of The Synaptik’s distinctive lyrical methodology.

JadaL ‘La Tlou’ El Daw ‘

Arab progressive rock veterans from Jordan have bridged the half-decade gap between major studio releases with a thoughtful and elegantly produced record that showcases both the experimentation they’ve pioneered since 2003. , and a penchant for tackling a range of unorthodox subjects. “La Tlou ‘El Daw” seamlessly goes from rocky verses animated by the sincere performance of the leader Mahmoud Radaideh to complex and avant-garde instrumental pieces dotted with accordion and synth, anthemic choruses and majestic and multi-layered harmonies . It is a triumphant return of one of the most inventive acts of the Arab world.

Bou Kolthoum “Talib”.

The regional rap scene underwent a radical change when Mounir Bu Kolthoum released his debut LP, “Inderal”, in 2015, and has since passionately praised the Syrian-born music producer, rapper and singer as one of his. pillars. Influenced by tarab, soul and funk, Bu Kolthoum is now based in Amsterdam, where he orchestrated the release of “Talib” this year. – a showcase inspired by fluidity and versatility. The gifted songwriter wears his heart on his sleeve through 12 dynamic tracks powered by his inimitable rhythm and song, which function as a reliable compass for his skillful navigation of these memorable tales of youth, rebellion and alienation.

El Far3i ‘Lazim Tisa’

Since leaving pioneering Arab rock group El Morabba3, Tareq Abu Kwaik – aka El Far3i – has been prolific to say the least. The Jordanian-Palestinian rapper, singer, songwriter and percussionist, who is also a key member of the acclaimed ensemble Shamstep 47Soul, adds a fifth notch to his belt of solo releases with “Lazim Tisa”. This trap LP is full of dark and gloomy atmospheres, dissonant synths, ghostly drone notes and viscous rhythms, all driven by the rhythmic raps and vocal style of the artist. El Far3i maintains his remarkable track record as one of the Middle East’s most exciting artists.

Prefaces ‘Hippodrome’

With a selection of stars including Pascal Semerdjian from Postcards, Salim Naffah (aka Alko B) from Wanton Bishops and Charif Megarbane from Cosmic Analog Ensemble, Heroes & Villains, Twyn Towers and Monumental Detail, to name a few, Prefaces is a pleasantly peculiar creative beast. “Hippodrome” is just one of four Megarbane albums released in 2021, and one of 80 that this inexhaustible musician has produced since 2005. His work is a graceful excursion through acoustic-folk, surfing -rock, jazz, Saharan blues, soul, funk, and 60s pop. Prefaces’ predominantly instrumental debuts fall into the latter category, with minimal, grainy production that often plays like deep cuts from a Quentin Tarantino film soundtrack.

various artists ‘Beirut 20/21’

Organized by the Support Program for Musicians in Beirut and Beyond, founded to support the country’s independent music scene in light of the systemic crises it has endured over the past two years, “Beirut 20/21” brings together a stellar list of up-and-comers and established artists. The compilation includes tracks by Dani Shukri of Tanjaret Daghet, Tarek Khuluki and Khaled Omran, as well as electronic music experimenters Kid Fourteen (aka Khodor Ellaik) and Liliane Chlela, among others. The anthology is a powerful reminder of the innovation and energy that still animates a community of creators who have otherwise been brought to their knees.