Omar Souleyman: Erbil Album Overview


It’s been a turbulent few years for dabke-techno king Omar Souleyman. In 2021 the Syrian singer was arrested in Urfa, town in southeastern Turkey the place he had been dwelling and working a bakery since escaping Syria’s civil struggle in 2011. Accused of being a member of the Syrian Kurdish Individuals’s Safety Models (YPG) militia, which authorities in Ankara take into account a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Employees’ Celebration (PKK), Souleyman was held for a little bit over 24 hours earlier than being launched with out costs.

Except for relating themes of exile on current albums, Souleyman’s music has by no means been overtly political (a alternative that has generally drawn criticism from fellow Syrians). However rising up as a Sunni Arab in Syria’s culturally numerous al-Hasakah area, he absorbed Kurdish, Assyrian, and even Turkish and Iraqi influences, usually singing in Kurdish and collaborating with Kurdish artists, corresponding to his former longtime keyboard participant Rizan Sa’id. Since leaving Turkey after his arrest, Souleyman has discovered a brand new dwelling in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish Area, and it’s to this historic metropolis—which, in distinction to the repressive regime in Turkey, provided him solace amid its numerous cultural milieu—that he dedicates his fifth studio album.

Erbil, his third full-length for Diplo’s Mad First rate (and one in all over 500 albums total, for those who consider the lore), celebrates the brand new experiences and friendships that Souleyman encountered there. For non-Arabic audio system that’s onerous to know, as a result of the label provides no lyrics or translations—a notable omission, contemplating Souleyman’s worldwide viewers. However in a method this follows the identical patterns which have characterised his trajectory since he was first plucked from relative obscurity in Syria and offered to the remainder of the world. For a lot of, Souleyman stands out as the solely dabke artist they ever come throughout. Decontextualized and inscrutable behind his darkish sun shades, he initiatives an aura of unknowability and distance.

Since Souleyman’s worldwide breakthrough in 2007 with Chic Frequencies’ compilation Freeway to Hassake, he’s amassed lots of of tens of millions of YouTube views and develop into the face of dabke within the Western world, collaborating with a diverse bunch of artists, from Björk to Gorillaz and 4 Tet. On Erbil, he sticks to the time-tested system that has propelled him to this point: his emotion-filled baritone gliding over a cascade of whirling saz strains, (largely) digital simulations of devices corresponding to oud, mijwiz, and arghul, and rock-solid, trance-inducing beats.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *