WENU WENU, RIBBON MUSIC
Wenu Wenu is an unusual case – it’s the first professionally recorded release from an artist with a catalogue of over 500 previous recordings to his name. Souleyman is a musician out of Syria who principally works as a wedding singer, mixing electronic music with the energetic, danceable local medium of dabke. Most of his previous performances have been recorded and given as a one-off to the bride and groom, then have subsequently reached popularity and a wider audience through bootleg distribution. This new, polished sound is exactly what some long-time fans may take issue with: this album was, in fact, produced by Four Tet and is clearly not characterized by the wildly-paced, off-the-cuff live recording for which he’s been known in the past.
This, however, does not in any way make Wenu Wenu a bad album. The rhythms are fast and engaging, a seamless blending of traditional music with synthesizers and drum machines. It’s a fusion that works exceptionally well together and that, thanks to Souleyman and other pioneers, is responsible for dabke’s recent rise in popularity. All in all, this is music every bit as hypnotic and high-energy as anything that people are dancing to at West-Coast all-night warehouse parties.
By Genevieve Michaels