Syriana

Algeria, Ireland, Jordan, United Kingdom, Palestine

Al Samah

Syriana

Released 15 August 2013

  1. Syriana (S40 Remix)
  2. Black Zil (S40 Remix)
  3. Ipiros (S40 Remix)
  4. Gharibb (Eccodek Remix)

Liner notes

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!

Bernard O'Neill discusses the process behind making the digital EP from a vinyl source

Three of the EP’s tracks were remixed by the microtonal Greek avant garde composer Jimi Papazanateas, 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.

Listen

Further Listening

  • The Road To Damascus

    Syriana

    Released 17 September 2010

    Syriana is more than just a band. It's a concept. An attitude. A perspective. A place where themes of tolerance, liberty and hope come wrapped in Arabic rhythms and played through a Western filter. Where free musical interaction is a given - despite the ironies bestowed by political reality. It's a project without a single dominant instrument. In Syriana the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Ipiros

    Syriana

    Released 20 July 2017

    Ten years have passed since the mesmerizingly haunting sound of Syriana’s Road To Damascus was released. In those ten years the warfare and tragedy that has taken over Syria has affected the futures and histories of the people there, and the instigators of Syriana – Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page and Bernard O’Neill – have looked on helplessly as the civilian districts they had walked peacefully around when recording some of the original album in Damascus have been ravaged. This digital remix EP has been put together with 100% of the profits going towards International Rescue: Greece.

Further reading

Djivan Gasparyan (1928 – 2021)

The Armenian duduk player collaborated with Michael Brook on the album Black Rock in 1998.

‘Mangled Pianos’ by Bob Holroyd, new on Real World X

New music from acclaimed artist and composer Bob Holroyd on Real World X.

A Lantern and a Bell: Track by Track

Emil Svanängen a.k.a. Loney dear and producer Emanuel Lundgren discuss the new album.

Track of the day: ‘Bitumba’ by Montparnasse Musique

Bitumba is the second release on our new imprint, Real World X, and features Congelese band Mbongwan...