Three years after If He Dies, If If If If If If, Montréal-Beirut contemporary Arabic audio-visual duo Jerusalem In My Heart released a new album. Daqa’iq Tudaiq is out now via Constellation Records. It features voice, electronics, buzuk and other instrumentation from composer-producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Matana Roberts, Suuns, Big Brave) and complemented by the 16mm analog film work of Charles-André Coderre in live performance. We had a talk with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh about the new release and their way to think music and art. Check it below after the full streaming via Bandcamp.
Let’s start from the new album “Daqa’iq Tudaiq”, from side one of the record. What about the idea and the collaboration with Montréal-Cairo musician/composer Sam Shalabi (Land Of Kush)?
Sam has been a very close friend for a very long time, and is someone who I trust and love his aesthetic very much. We talked a lot about what this co-arrangement for side 1 could be, and we were both on the same page. He is someone who really understands time and space in relation to clusters of music happening at the same time, so it felt like a very natural collaboration on that level.
Let’s talk about the side two. What about the composition and the bound with side one?
For me, they very much are tied to side 1, even though in terms of aesthetics they are very far apart. The themes that bind them are what makes these selections all work together in my opinion. I approach the album in a linear form, like in a film, where all these events represent a movement in emotion, that has a clear departure, a travel and an arrival.
Because of the nature of the duo, the visual part has an important role. How your music take life connected to this point of view?
It is indeed very very hard to represent the project, which is an installation duo, on record, which is why we spend so much time on the artwork, which is all made by Charles-André, the other half of the project and my partner in conceptualizing this. We take all these ideas of the music and the films and try to find a way to represent ‘the idea’ within the artwork of the record. And of course, he artwork is a reflection of what the live installation would be. Thus far I think we have managed to somewhat bridge that gap.
What about the experimentation in music conncted to instrumentations you use? What is your way to give new shape to the sound and what is your idea of experimentation in art?
There is a very large part of the show that is a wildcard, that is to say it is completely a live experimentation with some minimal preparation. Its hard to be able to contain these ideas and make them feel solid. Charles-André also deals with that same idea on a live show basis, as there is huge element of haphazard-ness to our setup technically. And as for experimentation in art, I’m not sure what to say. What art exists without experimentation? We are not ‘painting by colour’. We are creating. And if you take a conscious decision to not experiment then you are not creating.
I’m very interested to the connection between the places we live over the years, the territorial geography of our roots and the art. How do you feel these theme connected to your music, your way to think music?
All these point are absolutely connected. And not only connected, but interdependent. How can we not be influenced but the sun we see rise, the heat we feel from the sky, the warmth of the water we swim in, the peach we eat, the wine we drink, the people we converse with, the architecture we see, the moon we see in the sky etc etc etc. All these ideas feed into our project very much so. I love travelling so much, and being in places that I am unfamiliar with. But not in the tourist way. Rather, I am so happy sitting under a tree somewhere new and just taking it all in, not trying to fulfill some touristic objective to taking in as much of the place I am visiting culturally as possible. There is so much more to being somewhere new than that. Stop and just experience the air around you, and be taken by it, and let it take you where it wants to take you.
You are touring Europe. I will have the pleasure to see you in Terlizzi (Italy) at MAT LABORATORIO URBANO. What do you like most of the live part compared to studio recordings?
I am so excited to back in Puglia. It was a part of Italy that I had not gotten the chance to visit until 2 years ago and I, as expected, fell in love with it. So different than many parts of Italy. So refined and absolutely stunning. I really feel like the project comes to life in a live setting, as we are able to present the piece (and I say piece because we do perform it as one 50-60 minute piece, like a film) in its intended form. I’m really happy to be performing in areas that I’m in love with.
What are the best release you appreciated recently?.
Always such a hard question to answer…. I really love Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s soundtracks lp, called “Metaphors”. He is such a visionary and I’m a real fan. I also am absolutely mesmerized by Rosalía’s voice, and daring take on her roots. Cucina Povera’s “Hilja” is a great record that I have been listening to a lot this year. Lucrecia Dalt’s “Anticlines” is my favourite 2018 release by far. The compilation “Lament From Epirus” that was released by Tompkins Square is also wonderful. And also, Deena Abdelwahed’s new album “Khonnar” is absolutely fantastic.
Thank you for the thoughtful interview.