Jerusalem In My Heart – Mo7it Al-Mo7it – Constellation
Mo7it Al-Mo7it is the new album from film and performance group Jerusalem In My Heart. Simon Tucker enjoys its subtle interweaving of the modern and the traditional (with added birdsong).
Jerusalem In My Heart is a multi-media project focusing on sound, film, light, and their relationship with an audience. More like ‘happenings’ than regular gigs, performances normally take place once or twice a year with no two shows being the same. This ethos has led to a refusal to document such events by releasing an official or definitive recording of the projects. Until now…
Formed in 2005 by Lebanese born Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, JIMH is now made of a core trio of Moumneh, French musician and producer Jérémie Regnier, and Chilean visual artist and filmmaker Malena Szlam Salazar. The various backgrounds of all involved bleed into this project (Moumneh was a prime mover in Montréal’s’ 90s Punk Rock scene, and is also active in the Beirut experimental scene), and into this debut album.
The problem with these projects is that is you take away one of the elements e.g. the visuals, it can dilute the experience and make the audio not as powerful or as effective as if you were seeing the work as a whole. However, in the case of Mo7it Al-Mo7it, you need not have these misgivings. The album is a triumph of traditional versus contemporary. Modern day electronics interweave with classical instrumentation such as the buzuk and the zurna.
Opener, Koll LiL – Mali 7ati Fi Al-Khimar Aswadi, introduces the Moumnehs’ soaring vocals over a slight acoustic backing welcoming (or summoning) the listener to engage with the album before leading us into the even more traditional sounding second track 3andalib Al-Furat. This nine minute-plus track is seductive in its serenity, with the added bird song effect lulling the listener into a sense of summer warmth and tranquility. It’s only at two-thirds through with the introduction of droning instrumentation does the fly in the ointment appear adding a slight sense of unease to proceedings, leading us beautifully into Yudaghdegh El-ra3ey Walal-Ghanam.
On this track, the promised mixture of electronics and traditional instrumentation really comes to the fore. A track that any modern day Western electronica producer would love to have their name attached to and the first really outstanding track on the album.
Some musicians would take the listener back to the more serene style after this but JIMH decide that to ramp up the tension even more with 3anzah Jarbonah, a track that starts with a long singular voice that keeps coming in and out of ear shot, before white noise and drone get introduced to make this the fullest sounding track on the album and one that comes across like the secret lovechild of Third-era Portishead and Earth. Fans of these and bands such as Boris should really check this track out.
It is now that JIMH returns to the more traditional sounds of the start of the album with Dam3et El-3ein 3, even reintroducing the bird song, but where some albums fail in using this approach, this really helps the listener start to get back to grips with the album and also it cues up the final track Amanem wonderfully.
Amanem is, again, very reminiscent of the feel and textures of the first two tracks on the album. However, deep in the mix there are flashes of the darker side of their characters, making this track a nice amalgamation of all that is gone before. Also, Amanem concludes with a feel and sound SO reminiscent of opener ‘…Al-Khimar Aswadi’ that it makes you want to press play again straight away.
Mo7it Al-Mo7it is an album that is excellently sequenced and one that has such a strong middle section, that it should be a must-listen to fans of all genres of music and not to just fans of that ‘World Music’ tag.
I for one will be on the lookout for one of their events and if you’re near to one in the future I implore you to go check it out.