Various - Choubi Choubi! Folk And Pop Sounds From Iraq Volume 2 2xLP


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Label: Sublime Frequencies

Our Review:

Just when you thought you'd heard everything, in comes Sublime Frequencies to fill in the gaps you never thought existed. How many cds of Iraqi pop do you have in your collection? Until now we certainly didn't have any, let alone anything remotely traditional from Iraq. For a country that's so important to our war mongering presidential administration it's perhaps a little surprising that more interest hasn't been piqued about the culture of Iraq. But then again, everyone but W seems to understand that the real reasons for plundering this nation wasn't to "liberate" anyone. In fact, W would probably rather that no one even pay attention to any of this music, which has the awkward fortune to have been produced almost entirely (with the exception of three early 70's tracks) during the reign of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime (tracks here range from 1980 on up to 2002.). In spite of his - well deserved - reputation as a cruel dictator, he was also an avid supporter of both education and the arts - such are the complexities of life W would rather not acknowledge – and for better or worse, kept the fabricated nation state as stable as it has ever been. Hussein promoted secular arts and music, starting cultural centers for both, and even dubbed singers the "eighth division" of the armed forces (his nation had seven military divisions) - not to paint too rosy a picture of Donald Rumsfeld's former pal and business partner, who was also a sadistic tyrant after all. Compiled by Mark Gergis, Choubi Choubi! is a collection years in the making. Gergis scoured the earth for the source material on this disc, travelling through Syria, Europe and the Iraqi neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan. The anthology starts off with a folk rock track from '70s Socialist singer Ja'afar Hassan, a song that could easily compete with the best psych tracks on Hava Narghile or Turkish Delights for the crown of Middle Eastern psych champ. But if you're expecting another psych compilation, you're going to be disappointed as Choubi Choubi! is much more than that, way more. Most of the recordings on the album have no western instruments on them, nor hardly any western influence. These tracks rock out much harder with no electric instruments, but with huge string sections, pounding drums, and monstrous oud playing. Maybe it's also the super bluesy sounding (to the western ear) melodies, it's no wonder that it sounds so fresh and familiar to us. It really is weird, when I (Byram) first listened to this record I could have sworn there were more songs with electric guitars on it, but there aren't that many. It just sounds so fucking heavy, and rocks so hard that I remembered it as being a "rock" record. Really, really, really fucking great.