Al-Qasar – Who Are We?


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Middle Eastern psych-rock collective Al-Qasar”s debut album is an explosive mix of heavy Arabian grooves, global psychedelia and North African trance music. The band calls it “Arabian fuzz.” Brazenly electric yet deeply connected to their roots, guests include Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and Alsarah (Alsarah & The Nubatones). Mixed by Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, PJ Harvey). Al-Qasar was born in the Barbès neighbourhood of Paris,” explains band leader Thomas Attar Bellier. “I”ve lived in Los Angeles, Paris, New York, Lisbon… I wanted to start a project that was in tune with the daily life of people living in these international cities, something diverse, radically colourful, with a fresh, contemporary outlook on what societies really look like today”. The musicians came together from France, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and the United States. Shows followed, first in France, then in Europe and the Middle East. They put out an EP, the widely-lauded Miraj, recorded in Cairo. In the same time frame, Attar Bellier collaborated with the likes of Emel Mathlouthi and Dina El Wedidi, two of the most exciting names in contemporary Arab music. Drawing on years of experience working in Los Angeles studios, Attar Bellier produced the album. Who Are We? translates the sound that inhabited his head into something physical that stirs spirit, heart and feet. It is relentless and insistent, like a psychedelic celebration on the dancefloor, bristling with the kind of deep energy that makes Al-Qasar sound like the world”s most dangerous wedding band. During those years spent behind the control board, Attar Bellier made some good friends in the US, and they”ve been eager to help out on the project. Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, PJ Harvey) mixed the record, and Grammy-winner Dave Collins mastered it. The Dead Kennedys” Jello Biafra was a natural addition to “Ya Malak,” his inimitable voice reciting a translation of Egyptian revolutionary poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, elevating the record”s social critique while showcasing the first-ever English recording of Negm”s work. Jello Biafra is not the only punk hero to appear on Who Are We? Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth layers textured, brooding guitar over the first two cuts, “Awtar Al Sharq” and “Awal.” The sweeping drones embrace the Moroccan bendir groove to magical results. “Lee sent me upwards of eighteen guitar tracks,” says Attar Bellier in amazement. “It was enough for an entire EP, and all so good. The hard part was deciding what not to use. Lee”s vibe just fit perfectly with what I was trying to do with the track.” Who Are We? is an exhilarating album. Its intensity never wavers, music that pulls from the hypnotic roots of North African trance and threads it into a fabric with the elaborate beauty of Arabic scales and the shock and thrill of rock”n”roll. It is modern folklore, a reflection of the cross-cultural societies we”ve become.

  • 1.1
    Awtar Al Sharq (feat. Lee Ranaldo)
  • 1.2
    Awal (feat. Lee Ranaldo)
  • 1.3
    Ya Malak (feat. Jello Biafra)
  • 1.4
    Hobek Thawrat (feat. Alsarah)
  • 1.5
    Sham System
  • 1.6
    Barbès Barbès (feat. Mehdi Haddab)
  • 1.7
  • 1.8
    Mal Wa Jamal (feat. Hend Elrawy)

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Glitterbeat Records




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