Exclaim!

Jerusalem in My Heart

Le National, Montreal, QC, March 15

Jerusalem in My Heart
Photo: Gil Nault
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After over eight years of activity, it might sound as if Radwan Ghazi Moumneh took his time to finally crystallize seven songs on a full-length. Whereas Americans say "as poor as Job's turkey" and Quebecois say "pauvre comme Job," Arabs say "as patient as Job (Ayyoub)."

But judging from the relation that ties sound and image together during the Beirut-born multi-instrumentalist's live performances, new album Mo7it Al-Mo7it is the crack in the wall needed to fantasize over the unreachable complexity that thrives in every hum.

This compelling idea can't help but remind one of occupied Old Jerusalem, as seen from afar behind a wall on the cover of Lebanese singer Fairuz's 1971 album Al Quds Fil Bal, which initially christened Moumneh's project, back when he was still playing with Cursed before joining cerebral-electronic prog quintet Pas Chic Chic.

JIMH have progressed in mystical ways against the stream, ensuring that physical packages would provide an incomplete version of the picture. Henceforth the reason JIMH's live performances also seem out of reach, whether the happenings-cum-theatrical reenactments of classical Arabic poems require the presence of two protagonists on stage, as it did during the first part of the show, or whether the help a full chorus is required at the culmination of the set.

This ever-morphing happening is the antithesis of an industry born out of three-minute-long singles, as the theatricality of the performances, amped up by visuals spat out by six 16mm projectors, makes the minimalistic electronics, buzuk and vocals stand out as a distinct layer of a tri-headed monster free from the constrains and rigidity of Western music patterns.

Moumneh and co. are the valiant stewards of a quest for truth amongst throngs of historicized impostors and self-absorbed wreckers of civilization. Beware of the evil eye; you deserve all the nazars of the world against the "ayn al-ḥasūd."
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