Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

The Orchestra Of Syrian Musicians & Guests

Africa Express Presents... Transgressive | CD DL LP

Exile on Straight Street with Weller, Albarn, Holter et al, on tour in Europe in June.

DAMON ALBARN’S ambitious attempt to reunite musicians who had been scattered across the globe by the conflict in Syria may have been the most testing tour of the summer; the results are a rare piece of good news from the Levant. If the idea of an album of orchestral middle Eastern music doesn’t appeal, the majesty of Old Damascus may involve a conversion of sorts; the debate should be ended with the intense rhythm of Al Ajahleh (guests Seckou Keita and Bassekou Kouyaté emphasise that this is an Africa Express project). Yet it’s the adaptations of Western tracks that are the key to the album: Paul McCartney’s Blackbird has a terrific choral addition; Julia Holter’s Feel You benefits from massed strings and subtler percussion; the Arabic flavours of Blur’s Out Of Time are heightened. Definitely one of 2016’s more encouraging achievements.

Watch Damon Albarn perform Out of Time with The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians…

Watch Seckou Keita and Bassekou Kouyaté perform Al Ajahleh…