Al Samah

Syriana, 2013

Syriana's 'Al Samah' - combining the best of digital and analogue technology

A digital EP featuring four tracks currently available only on the limited edition LP 'A Life In Film'. To capture the spirit and atmosphere of the vinyl experience, we have created a special edition digital version: 'Al Samah'.

Inspired by the beautiful old gramophones and stacks of LPs they came across in the souks of Damascus when recording their 2010 album, 'The Road To Damascus', Syriana were keen to explore the vinyl approach with their otherworldly mix of Arabic and Western music.

The transfer from vinyl to digital was made by playing the LP on a high quality turntable, using the best analogue to digital converter available at Real World Studios. Calibrated and tested, no edits or cleaning were applied; it's the true vinyl experience - the odd pop and click included!

Syriana is guitarist/producer Nick "Dubulah" Page (Dub Colossus, Trans Global Underground, Temple of Sound), composer and double bass player, Bernard O'Neill and Syrian Qanun player, Abdullah Chhadeh.

Three of the EP's tracks were remixed by the microtonal Greek avant garde composer Jimi Papazanateas (Dub Colossus, Temple of Sound, Project Dark), whose otherworldly touch brought a very contemporary edge to the music as modes and tone clusters re-work sounds spanning a thousand years of instrumental history. Guitar, double bass and the ancient Arabic qanun mix with ARP 2600 analogue synth from the 1960s and 70s for the band's characteristically sinous and slightly menacing Cold War retro vibe.

Another remix is contributed by acclaimed Canadian artist Eccodek (Andrew McPherson), with a "dubclubstyle" take on Gharrib.

Ipiros, played in fast 7/8 time, is a style of music indigenous to northern Greece (a region for which the track is named). It did not appear on Syriana's full album but has become a crowd favorite at the band's stunning live concert performances.

From psychedelic Arab drum & bass fusion - with steaming double-bass by Bernard O'Neill - to slow meditations on matters east and west ("surfing United Arab Emirates, really" says Dubulah), Al Samah is an exotic sonic delight.