Omar Souleyman Wenu Wenu

Omar Souleyman Wenu Wenu
7
Billing Omar Souleyman's new disc, Wenu Wenu, as his proper studio debut, though somewhat correct, is a bit misleading, as the celebrated Syrian singer, whose star has risen internationally in recent years, has actually been performing (largely at weddings) for two decades. For his official Western introduction, Souleyman enlists the guiding hand of Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), who occupies a more technical role here, generally leaving Souleyman and his long-time bandmates to their own devices, while adding touches of polish from the sidelines. A combination of traditional percussion and early '90s drum machine rhythms propel the record's seven varied dance grooves, with the singer's short, commanding lyrical injections trading off against the album's almost incessant improvisational string of electrified buzuq melodies. In fact, it's the twangy buzuq that leads the way for most of the set, adding reams of dynamic flair to the emotive weight of the record's more distinctive slower cuts, and fluttering around uncontrollably once the pace picks up. Wenu Wenu does a decent job presenting the veteran singer, but your desire to return to this disc hinges upon your enthusiasm for that instrument's unique sound. (Ribbon)