Omar Souleyman

PopGun Presents

Omar Souleyman

Dutch E Germ, Michael Beharie

Wed Aug 6, 2014

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Glasslands Gallery

Brooklyn, NY


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This event is 21 and over

Reschedule from June 13th - Tickets will be honored.

Omar Souleyman
Omar Souleyman
Omar Souleyman - the Syrian artist who not only changed the vibe of weddings throughout the Middle East with his Shaabi street sound but also brought it to the West through his notorious late night festival slots - has finally recorded an album. After three compilations and a live release, Wenu Wenu is his first album to be recorded in a studio and was produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet).

Born in 1966, Souleyman grew up in Ra's al'-Ayn, a Syrian town in the northeastern region of Jazeera. That's where he first heard Syrian folk music played on a long-necked lute called a bozouki and rebab, a single-stringed fiddle. He enlisted Rizan Sa'id from a local Kurdish combo in 1996. The pair electrified Souleyman's acoustic music – playing it harder, faster, louder, and more thrilling than ever before. He became an increasingly prominent act on the local wedding circuit, eventually generating an estimated 500 bootleg recordings and plenty of wild YouTube videos.

Dabke is a foot-stomping circle dance popular throughout the Middle East; in Syria, men and women perform it together. The one-time mason has been updating his native land's traditional dabke dance music since 1996.

Speaking in Arabic through a translator from his – let's hope – temporary home in nearby Turkey, Souleyman describes Wenu Wenu as being "nearly live." Clearly delighted by the results, Souleyman tips his keffiyeh to Hebden for capturing the singer and his longtime musical partner, the keyboardist-composer Rizan Sa'id, at their purest, with very little overdubbing.

Although he's received many impressive recent offers, Souleyman says wedding gigs are a thing of the past for him, due in part to the situation in Syria, and that he now prefers to perform in concert. His international audience is expanding, thanks to projects such as his well-received remixes for Björk's Biophilia, and he's seen his influence spread around the Middle East. Souleyman characterizes his dabke style as particularly flexible. Where as localized, rural dabke known as baladi is inflexible, Souleyman's dabke can be played faster or slower, with different words and tunes. "It works with everything," he says.

Title track "Wenu Wenu" is relatively new and, according to Souleyman, a real crowd pleaser. It's a four-on-the-floor dynamo, with brain-melting synthesizer accompaniment reminiscent of a space ship landing in the desert. "Ya Yumma,” on the other hand, has been in Souleyman's repertoire since 1995. According to Souleyman, the hard-charging "Nahy" refers to an older style of poetry in which each stanza contains six lines.

And "Khattaba" became a much-covered Arab-world hit after airing on TV in 2006. With words by the poet Madmoud Harbi, Souleyman describes it as a sort of "remix" and points out that the rhythm is baladi rather than shaabi.

Souleyman sings in Arabic and Kurdish on the traditional Kurdish song "Warni Warni,” which contains some nifty electronic percussion on top of its techno-folk beat. In the mysterious "Mawal Jamar,” Souleyman sings about being willing to walk over hot coals for his beloved, adding that "mawal" is a form of Arabic improvisation. And, finally, "Yagbuni” (a term of endearment from Souleyman's Jazeera region) ends the album with an electro-shaabi bang.

Often described as “Syrian Techno” and recorded primarily live in the studio, Wenu Wenu distills Omar’s live performances into a fireball of Middle Eastern passion and excitement.

Photo credit: Rasmus Jensen
Dutch E Germ
Tim DeWit has been a cornerstone of underground music for over a decade. From his early roots in the DC punk scene with The Cranium to the foundation of Gang Gang Dance, DeWit has consistently spread an exotic sense of rhythm and melody wherever his career has taken him. As a touring member he's played drums in bands as diverse as Cass McCombs, Ssab Songs with Harmony Korine, Neil Hegarty, Teengirl Fantasy and The Boredom's 77 Boa Drum.

Tim's pilgrimage to New York with Brian Degraw began GGD's first abstract experiments like Revival Of The Shittest and God's Money - which he produced as well as performed. After completing Saint Dymphna with the band, DeWit took a hiatus until it's expected release. Before it would drop Tim was shot in a robbery while visiting his family in Michigan. The nearly fatal gunshot to his chest forced him to indefinitely leave the band and live performance, shifting Tim's focus to production.

In the years following DeWit contributed to Venus X's seminal Ghe2o G0th1k parties as Dutch EGerm and created runway music sound design for NY fashion underdog Hood By Air. Tim also composed soundtrack work for new Oscilloscope films 12 O'clock Boys, Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors and Leilah Weinraub's forthcoming female strip club documentary Shakedown. Dutch EGerm has remixed musicians Fatima Al Qadiri and Mas Ysa.

In 2014 DEG will continue to deliver his rhythmic intricacies developed in GGD with contemporary influence and worldly aim. Released for the first time under his own name, UNO's IN.RAK.DUST represents an uncompromising musician entering the next stage of his craft.
Michael Beharie





Tequila Mockingbird - $8
(Sauza Gold, Ginger Ale, Cranberry)
Negroni - $9
(Well gin, Campari, Vermouth)
Jameson Black & Stormy - $9
(Patron, Coffee, Campari, Ginger Ale)
Rolling Rock + Well Jammer - $9

Still pouring the strongest drinks in town. Cash only, Dad.