One of the more renowned, uncompromising and dynamic projects of 21st century avant-garde Arab-Levantine art and music, Jerusalem In My Heart presents a new album of viscerally expressive electronics and electroacoustics, framed by the spoken and sung Arabic, buzuk-playing, electronics and sound design of Lebanese-Canadian musician and producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh.
Qalaq is the most distilled, variegated, finely wrought Jerusalem In My Heart album to date, featuring a different collaborator on almost every track—yet as cohesive and categorically JIMH as any release in its outstanding discography. Guests include Lucrecia Dalt, Tim Hecker, Moor Mother, Greg Fox, Rabih Beaini, Alanis Obomsawin, and more.
“Qalaq” is an Arabic word with many shades of meaning but Moumneh particularly intends it as “deep worry” – on various obvious global levels, but also specifically with respect to Lebanon: its collapsing domestic politics, economy and infrastructure; the tragedy and aftermath of the 2020 Beirut port explosion; the intractable geography and geopolitics that continue to condemn the country to corruption, disruption, destabilization and violence.
“The Side Two tracks are all named ‘Qalaq’ and then numbered, representing the degrees of layered and complex violence that Lebanon and the Levant have reached in the last couple of years, from the complete and utter failure of the Lebanese sectarian state that has driven the economy to a grinding halt, to its disastrous handling of the migrant influx from neighbouring failed states, to the endemic corruption that led to the August 2020 port explosion, to the latest chapter of Palestinian erasure and yet another brutally asymmetrical and disproportionate bombing campaign on Gaza.” – Moumneh
Jerusalem In My Heart
CST158 • 180gLP / CD / DL
Release date: 8 October 2021
Genre: Electronic, Experimental, Contemporary Arabic, “Global”
RIYL: Nadah El Shazly, Maurice Louca, Fatima Al Qadiri, Sote, Lucrecia Dalt, Moor Mother
with Greg Fox
with Alexei Perry Cox
with the city of Beirut
with Lucrecia Dalt
‘Ana Lisan Wahad
with Farida Amadou & Pierre-Guy Blanchard
with Alanis Obomsawin & Diana Combo
with Roger Tellier Craig
with Moor Mother
with Rabih Beaini
with VÍZ [Réka Csiszér]
with Tim Hecker
with Mayss, Mazen Kerbaj, Sharif Sehnaoui & Raed Yassin
Moumneh calls Qalaq a sister album and “mirrored image” to Daqa’iq Tudaiq, the previous JIMH full-length from 2018, where one album side featured a 20-minute piece in four movements recorded live in Beirut with a 15-person orchestra of acoustic players following a written score representing Moumneh’s re-interpretation of “Ya Garat Al Wadi” by Mohammad Abdel Wahab and Ahmad Shawqi.
By contrast, Qalaq was composed with a “dismantled orchestra” across dissociated/isolated space-time: invited musicians collaborated through distanced file-exchange on atomised pieces, working from Moumneh’s initial through-composed source materials (and emotive background discussions) with an otherwise completely open canvas.
“The album was created over the winter 2020/21 months of lockdown in Montréal, with all of its collaborations done remotely for obvious reasons. I composed the album as a bare skeleton, giving each artist a section to decompose, edit, re-interpret and recompose as they desired, sending me back their stems which I then mixed into my own, remoulding newfound coherences in the overarching composition.” – Moumneh
The resulting work contains almost double the number of tracks of any previous JIMH album but arguably flows the best of them all. Qalaq is marked by a range of artistic processes and diversity of tactics, while maintaining a fundamental sonic aesthetic and a profound synthesis of emotional and narrative power.
The album artwork—with a front cover colour photograph by Myriam Boulous capturing a scene during the Beirut October Revolution of 2019, back cover calligraphy by Krystian Sarkis, and black and white inner sleeve photographs of the Beirut port explosion aftermath by Tony Elieh—further contextualizes the specificity and lamentations of Qalaq; the deep worry at its heart.
Qalaq also (re)introduces the newest member of Jerusalem In My Heart: experimental filmmaker Erin Weisgerber, who had just embarked on her first JIMH tour in March 2020, performing six shows before the tour was abruptly suspended due to pandemic.
Weisgerber’s phenomenal short film for “Qalouli”, the duo’s first formal new work together, was made for Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longform Singles Series last year and provides a glimpse of what’s to come.
All-new visuals from Weisgerber will be premiered at European and Canadian live concert dates by the music-and-film duo this November 2021.
JIMH | QALAQ
Film by Erin Weisgerber
JERUSALEM IN MY HEART
LIVE DATES: https://www.jerusaleminmyheart.com/#qalaqannouncement
Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is a live audio-visual performance project with Lebanese-Canadian producer/musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and Montréal based filmmaker Erin Weisgerber at its core. JIMH is an immersive sonic and visual live experience and an evolving effort to forge a modern experimental Arabic music wed to hand-made visuals using analog 16mm film at site-specific screen installations.
JIMH is shaped by Moumneh’s melding of ‘traditional’ melismatic singing (in Arabic) and buzuk playing with modern deployments of modular synthesis, sound design and field recordings. Moumneh’s lyrical themes are rich in political and socio-cultural poetics: “there’s a heartfelt yearning and emotion that unifies” the work, writes The Wire; “stunning of-the-moment [music] that speaks to the intersection of the personal and political with supreme confidence” says AdHoc.
In 2012, Moumneh began to transform Jerusalem In My Heart from one-off, site-specific, performance-only multi-media happenings into a recording project and live audio-visual duo where performances could be ‘captured’ and ‘repeated’. Analog film projections are an integral part of the JIMH aesthetic identity. Weisgerber manipulates photographic, chemical and material properties of 16mm film, rendering rhythmic images that exist between figuration and abstraction, external vision and internal landscape; she performs film and audio loops live on multiple projectors while Moumneh sings and plays buzuk and modular synths.
JIMH’s three full-length albums to date – all released on Montréal experimental music label Constellation – have variously appeared on year-end lists in such publications as The Quietus, The Wire, A Closer Listen, and others. The project has toured widely, primarily in Europe, Canada and Lebanon. JIMH has appeared at many leading avant-music festivals and has been a guest curator for Le Guess Who?. JIMH has also released a collaborative album with Suuns (on Secretly Canadian) and was featured in an installment of the Grapefruit Records subscription series. Moumneh is active as an engineer/producer, with a long list of albums to his name, including Matana Roberts, Big|Brave, Sarah Davachi, Suuns, Fly Pan Am, Jessica Moss and Eric Chenaux. He works out of the city’s fabled Hotel2Tango studio, of which he is a co-owner.