A new way of hearing Palestine
December 22, 2015 12:55 PM   Subscribe

"Palestinian culture — notably the writings of Mahmoud Darwish — have inspired non-Palestinian artists, such as the elegant, sparse album The Astounding Eyes of Rita by Tunisian jazz master Anouar Brahem. But all of these belong to very “grown-up” genres, appealing to audiences used to classical, jazz and “world” music. Checkpoint 303's "The Iqrit Files" offers something very different. Palestinian songs, poetry, history and landscapes provide the starting point for an album which combines them with the much more youthful sounds of drum and bass, minimal techno and ambient electronic." (The Electronic Intifada)

Checkpoint 303 is an activist sound art project led by sound designer SC MoCha. The electronic experiment initially kicked off in 2004 when sound cutter SC MoCha teamed up with Bethlehem-based palestinian sound catcher SC Yosh. The idea is to cut, track, fragment and reconstruct the audio soundscape from daily lives in the middle east and across the arab world. New audio reporting on injustice. An ode to resistance in the face of oppression.

Released in May 2015, "The Iqrit Files" concerns the 1948 evacuation and 1951 reduction to rubble of the Palestinian village by that name near the Lebanon border, and more recent efforts of its descendants to return. The CD combines field recordings, radio broadcast clips, ambient everyday sounds, the ritual Upper Galilee singing of Jawaher Shofani and Wardeh Sbeit, and the poetry of Jihad Sbeit. Running through the mix are voice samples including Eleanor Roosevelt's reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the historic UN roll call vote that made it international law (“In 1948”), Albert Einstein's reflections on the example of Gandhi's passive resistance (“My Homeland”), Nelson Mandela's US interview only shortly after his 1990 prison release (“A'ataba”), and a 1980 interview with Bob Marley (“I Climbed the Top of the Mountain”). Add to that the menacing sonic aura of a military checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem (“Road to Jerusalem”) and the chanting of demonstrators returning to Iqrit to bury their dead. As Iqrit's children remark, “They do not accept us living [there] anymore, but we are still allowed to die there.” (RootsWorld)

Download the full album alongside a lengthy booklet (pdf) that "provides translations and information, and wonderful images of the landscape that is, on the surface, empty, but shimmering in the air, in the soft light, are the souls of the people." (Lapkat)
posted by sapagan (6 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
"The Astounding Eyes of Rita" is one of my all time favourite albums. A quite remarkable work.
posted by lilburne at 2:07 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

reminds me vaguely of some of talvin singh's work. i guess it's the mixing of "documentary" and beats. asian dub foundation too.

(worried i'm being horribly orientalist and tarring dissimilar artists with the same brush because they sound "exotic" to me - sorry if so).
posted by andrewcooke at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2015

[Joe in Australia, please knock it off with the seemingly-compulsive political essays. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

OMG is this ever my kind of thing. Thank you!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:23 PM on December 22, 2015

Thanks for sharing this - really interesting and the music is amazing.
posted by oh pollo! at 3:24 AM on December 23, 2015

Good stuff. Thanks for this post, sapagan.
posted by homunculus at 12:01 PM on December 25, 2015

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