July 19, 2024

Oiseaux-Tempete – Al-‘An! fuses drifting post-rock soundscapes with the textures of Beirut

SUB ROSA.        31st March 2017

Meaning “Now!” in Arabic, Al-’An is the third part of the band’s exploration of a theme. I’m not sure I grasp the theme but I grasp the feeling. From Beirut, the cosmopolitan heart of Lebanon, full of different communities and traditions, comes this fusion with French musicians. Fusion being the thing of the moment, with populations being displaced thanks to war, hatred and hunger. In recent months we’ve had the Egyptian / Krautrock fusion of The Dwarfs Of East Agouza and the American Big Band meets Lebanon of Omar Rahbany.

Oiseaux-Tempete create a mostly dreamlike surface, on which float textures of different worlds and underneath which beats the blood-pulse that moves those worlds. The set opens with slow hovering bowed strings and a bass guitar figure. Feedback and squeals build before dispersing into the sound of an oud, traffic and a marketplace. The sounds that carry this are electronics, tapes, samples, wind instruments and guitar. Heavy oscillator effects create a space-rock effect at one point, without moving too far from the slow atmospheric pieces with floating found sounds. Streets, churches, a speech, all find a place in this concerto for a blended and mystical world. One track may be a slow ghazal, the next a set of crashing guitar riffs.

The magnum opus is the penultimate track, a slow melancholy speech, a science-fiction ecology eulogy, something from the world of Michael Moorcock and Hawkwind. The slow accompanying melody builds to a searing post-rock cacophony over seventeen minutes.

Albums like this make something new from their incorporation of so many elements without compromise and without patronising the listener with watered-down Orientalism. It’s an absorbing listen.

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