Annihaya,Lebanon 2015. Entirely recorded at Tunefork Studios on the outskirts of Beirut, Burj al Imam‘s five tracks include three largely improvised numbers, a loose reworking of early Sun City Girls track “The Imam,” and a cover of traditional Americana song “Gently Johnny.” The album displays remarkable coherence, for four musicians coming from such different backgrounds. True to their habits, the Lebanese trio of trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui, and bassist Raed Yassin create acoustic improvised drones that range from insistent, chiming resonances with emergency alarm bells to low, thrumming hums. The three musicians largely avoid conventional technique, instead using what sounds like motorized devices to generate rattling, metallic vibrations, building a mechanistic backdrop out of which the instruments’ true voices occasionally arise. Perched above the ambient din, Alan Bishop is in fine form, and alternates between gentle crooning and malevolent whispering. Alan Bishop: guitar and voice; Mazen Kerbaj: trumpet; Sharif Sehnaoui: acoustic guitar; Raed Yassin: double bass.
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