Radwan Ghazi Moumneh has had a long relationship with Constellation, Montreal's banner-label for post-rock and any experimental music that grows from its roots. He's produced records for post-punkers Ought and avant-jazz artist Matana Roberts, made albums with folk-warper Eric Chenaux, and he also makes records under the moniker Jerusalem In My Heart. Mo7it Al-Mo7it, his debut record, collated stuttering electronics with improvised buzuk playing. His new record, the gorgeous If He Dies, If If If If If If, sees the two aspects of his sound interact more formally, while also incorporating field recordings of the Lebanese ocean and steadfast flute drone.
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If If If If this isn’t essentially Constellation releasing themselves then I’ll be darned. The man behind Jerusalem In My Heart, as you may well know, is Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, producer/engineer extraordinaire and co-founder of Hotel2Tango, an honorary sibling of CST. His JIMH project has been following a path between Montreal and Beirut for a few years now, touring around and dropping a few golden eggs into the NR review pile.
On If He Dies, If If If If If If, Moumneh enters into a land of droning harmony, Buzuk pluckings and mournful vocal phrases, all at a freeform or steady pace. The sound set is lovely, the Buzuk contributing naturally unfolding string mutterings that occasionally get blasted into grains (‘A Granular Buzuk’ tells all), and Moumneh’s voice taking a similar, but more slowly drifting turn. When the more traditional percussion and guitar aren’t doing their backing bits, stuttering electronic tones and intense noise blankets fill the backdrop, most effectively in the emotive build at the end of ‘Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa’. And there's the bit that I haven’t mentioned yet - the implied sorrow inside it all. ‘Ta3meni; Ta3meitu’ is rife with it. The political nature of Moumneh's music is reflected by the back cover image - four boys killed by an Israeli shelling while enjoying some time at the beach. Fucked up.
If He Dies… is an exact lens into the heart and mind of Moumneh, who clearly has more to say that just ‘I can help your music happen’. Have a listen, and hear how he gloriously emerges from behind the desk.
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- If He Dies, If If If If If If by Jerusalem In My Heart
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