French post-rock duo Birds-Storm's latest work is described as "some live epiphanies improvised between Middle East and Europe during the year of chaos 2016." They've painstakingly sculpted and woven together vignettes and movements for a monumental album experience.
At times, OT nurture a seamless blend between a track that builds tension and one that releases it. The first two tracks, and the fifth and sixth, do exactly this, with each pair involving a free-time solo building into a deep groove. The sixth track is also elevated by Tamer Abu Ghazaleh's soulful vocals.
Another strength of this record is the rich tapestry of references. "Carnival" includes a clip of Christian hymn "Wa Habibi" sung by famous Lebanese singer Fairuz, Before going into a distorted synth riff and off-kilter drums. "Electric Resistance" opens with a bit of self-defense, and ends with a siren that blends into the next track. "The Offering" sets an excerpt of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish reading his own poem against a soundscape including some funky drumming and a 7/8 synth ostinato.
The 17-minute centerpiece, "Through the Speech of Stars," boasts an explosive first movement and then falls back as the clues and songs of street protest passes by, leading to GW Sok's dramatic reading from Darwish's poem. White Man. " Then, it builds back up to a pummelling climax worthy of Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Swans.
Fans of post-rock and experimental music styles, will devour the sumptuous textural palette this record provides. For those who seek political and personal truths, AL-'AN! Also weaves critical dissent together with complexity and compassion. (Sub Rosa)