Omar Souleyman
To Syria, With Love



Omar Souleyman is reported to have released 500 live albums in Syria, recorded mainly at weddings before the country’s civil war forced him into exile in 2011. With that conflict only worsening six years in, and Souleyman dedicating his new record “with love” to his homeland, one could be forgiven for anticipating a somewhat melancholic tone here. The singer’s 503rd (ish) album, however, contains precious little bleakness. For the most part, its relentless thump and slithering, urgent melodies are fluorescently bright, insistent and addictive, and Souleyman’s vocals, gruff and throaty, bubble with a bold joie de vivre.

Only on ‘Mawal’ does the pace dip below “frenetic”, the throbbing techno kick replaced with a loping waltz-time rhythm, and the short blasts of instrumental jingles set aside for longer, more keening phrases. Elsewhere, though, spirits remain stoically high: ‘Ya Bnayya’’s lurching syncopation, recalling a sort of 1,000-volt interpretation of ragga, is impossible not to wriggle to, the relentless ratatat of ‘Khayen’ is only augmented by Souleyman’s boisterous ad libs, and the closing ‘Tensana’, while superficially a touch corny, revels in its tangy mix of route-one techno with serpentine microtonal saz.

It all adds up to a record that pulses with life and indomitable spirit – from one angle, surely the finest love letter Syria could currently wish to receive.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.