Burn the Bridges (2020)

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Burn the Bridges is a collection of instrumental Middle Eastern disaporic compositions, comprising selections from soundtracks as well as what could be called 'imaginary soundtracks.' The compositions use both live and electronic instrumentation, involving both traditional and experimental and avant garde approaches. Some are recordings that are centered upon the oud, qanun, live strings, and live percussion, while others are purely electronic. Much like my earlier album Chehrehnama (2006), released internationally by Hermes Records, this album draws from my experiences performing and composing music inspired by contemporary and classical musics of the Arab world and Iran for many years, and by my scholarly interests in cultural studies of the modern Middle East.

Some of the compositions of the album are selected from soundtracks I have written for three films: the Palestinian feature films Salt of This Sea (2009) and Where I Saw You (2014), directed by Annemarie Jacir, and the documentary Quelques miettes pour les ouiseaux (2005) directed by the French director Nassim Amouache. These recordings have been remixed and remastered for this collection, and placed alongside other original recordings that evoke imaginary soundtracks for unmade films.

Recorded over several years, in different locations from Beirut, to Edinburgh, to Cambridge MA, the pieces are reflections upon friendships and connections that have brought me into contact with other passionate lovers of the possibilities inherent in music inspired by the cultures of northern Africa and western Asia, when put into conversation with new modes of recording and orchestration.

The album’s title Burn the Bridges plays on different meanings. On one hand it invokes an apocalyptic scene of a world, perhaps not far from our own, where the metaphorical bridges between cultures are no longer possible?

On the other hand, the title references a conscious determination to composing music without a “bridge” — the songwriting term for a third section to a song that is conventional to the Western popular song tradition. The compositions on Burn the Bridges tend to eschew the notion of a bridge, instead exploring the possibilities — long conventional in music of Iran and the Arab world — of repetition that spirals or modulates through shifts in orchestration and instrumentation. The Western popular song uses the bridge to, in a sense, give the song’s story completion. Without bridges, musical pieces may be less about producing a story or a complete self contained experience, than they are small windows that give glimpses of experiences and histories.

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/burn-the-bridges/1502648165
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1PO36QU39fKeESxt7VVtVT?si=0ndjowkEQHmQTEEfHScSLQ

Music Bio

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Having studied composition and performance of jazz and experimental music as an undergraduate, I went on to explore Arabic and Persian music theory and performance with a focus on the ‘ud afterwards. I now direct the greater part of my musical interests to electronic-acoustic recordings, often as soundtracks for cinema works. In addition to scoring several short films, I have composed the soundtracks to feature length works such as: When I Saw You and Salt of This Sea, (dir. Annemarie Jacir, 2014 & 2009), Until When (dir. Dahna AbouRahme, 2001), Hopefully for the Best (Raed al-Helou, 2004), and Whose Children Are These (dir. Theresa Thanjan, 2005).


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A series of songs written with the band Hanooz, a project in collaboration with Ashkan Nasseri and Shirin Mozzafari.
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Cherhrenama: The name of the album refers to an illustrated Persian-language newspaper published in Cairo (1904-1950), one of many publications that called for freedom and reform in Iran. Pieces in this collection are selected from three soundtracks (Hopefully for the Better, dir. Raed al-Helou; Like Twenty Impossibles, Annemarie Jacir; and Whose Children Are These, Theresa Thanjan) and also pieces that were inspired by short stories published in Chehrenama.

The CD is available through iTunes:
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