Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Urban Verbs ‎– Early Damage (1981)

Style: New Wave
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Wounded Bird Records, Warner Bros. Records

Tracklist:
A1.   When The Dance Is Over
A2.   Jar My Blood
A3.   Acceleration
A4.   Early Damage
A5.   Promise
B1.   For Your Eyes Only
B2.   Business & The Rational Mind
B3.   In The Heat
B4.   Terminal Bar

Credits:
Bass – Linda France
Drums, Percussion – Danny Frankel
Guitar, Music By – Robert Goldstein
Synthesizer – Robin Rose
Vocals, Lyrics By – Roddy Frantz
Producer, Engineer – Jeff Glixman, Steve Lillywhite

Washington D.C.'s Urban Verbs are often cited as a pretentious new wave band from a town that would later help birth hardcore punk, but the truth is they deserve better than that. Urban Verbs were one of the first significant new wave acts to emerge from the nation's capitol, they helped to found what would become one of the city's finest rock venues, the 9:30 Club, and their best work was genuinely striking and distinctive. 1981's Early Damage, the group's second and final album, is a compelling collection of cool but dramatic soundscapes fueled by Robert Goldstein's guitar work, which could shapeshift into smooth, jagged, or impressionistic patterns at will. Goldstein had a more than able musical foil in keyboard player Robin Rose, and if her synthesizer patterns sound just a bit clichéd these days, they were innovative back in the day and they're still effective in context. And drummer Danny Frankel and bassist Linda France were a gifted rhythm section who brought a thoughtful variety of tonal colors to the mix without littering the sleek horizons of this sound. However, like the Urban Verbs' debut album, Early Damage is ultimately hobbled by its Achilles' heel, lead singer Roddy Frantz, whose mannered, melodramatic vocal style and pretentious lyrics often stand in the way of what the musicians are attempting to accomplish. If the Urban Verbs had had a singer with the imagination and intelligence of David Thomas, Alan Vega, or Patti Smith, they could have been champs, but as it was they were four excellent musicians who didn't get the focal point they deserved. Early Damage is a more compelling and stronger example of their strengths than the self-titled debut, but it's still best recommended to folks who can listen past the lead singer.
Mark Deming / AllMusic

Abdou El Omari – Nuits de Printemps Avec Abdou El Omari (2017)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Folk, World, & Country
Format: VinylFLAC
Label:  Radio Martiko, Disques Gam

Tracklist:
A1.   الغروب = Alghoroub
A2.   النخيل = Nakhil
A3.   ليالي الربيع = Layali Rabih
A4.   رقصة الاطلس = Raksat Al Atlas
B1.   أنغام شعبية = Angham Chaabya
B2.   أݣادير = Agadir
B3.   مرسول الحب = Marsoul Alhoub

Credits:
Composed By, Performer – Abdou El Omari

We've written before about the unique thrills provided by Moroccoan composer Abdou El Amari's obscure 1970s work, which combine electronic interpretations of North African and American funk rhythms, wild and wacky organ motifs, and copious amounts of tape delay. Belgian imprint Radio Martiko has already reissued two instalments of his infamous - and devilishly hard to find - Nuits De trilogy of albums, and here completes the set. "Nuits De Printemps" is dedicated to spring and therefore a little breezier and looser than its contemporaries, with a little more emphasis on live percussion amongst the synthesizers and drum machines. Predictably, it's an exotic and mind-altering treat from start to finish. 
Juno Records
The music of organist Abdou El Omari may have first hit Western ears on an early Mississippi Records cassette comp of Moroccan chaabi, but reissue label Radio Martiko has given us a full three albums from the maestro that they dub “the organ king of Casablanca.” These mid-‘70s albums merged North African folk music with a solid dose of psychedelia and space-age fantasy. 
El Omari’s North African psych uses rock rhythm guitar and Farfisa organ but over a more seductive beat. The sometimes mechanized rhythms make it easy to imagine this as music for belly-dancing, but when was the last time you saw a belly-dancer swaying to something that suggested Miles Davis’ psych-monster Agharta? When the organist shifts from Farfisa to ARP, you swear he’d been listening to Sun Ra’s Space is the Place and wish the two organists could have collaborated. 
Each of the three albums has its charms. Nuits D’Été (Summer Nights), originally released in 1976, is mostly instrumental. The nearly 12-minute “Angham Chaabya” shifts from folk chorus to an extended wah-wah guitar solo, followed by the glassy synth lines of the more concise instrumental “Agadir.” The rapid pulse of “Marsoul Alhoub,” on the other hand, approaches a kind of psychedelic drone. One wonders what Moroccan audiences thought of this folk-jazz hybrid 40 years ago, a distinct and almost avant-garde dance music emerging when the rest of the world was shaking their groove thangs to disco. 
The second album in El Omari’s trilogy is a previously unreleased set that adds vocalist Naima Samih, a Moroccan woman who began performing at the age of nine. While tracks like opener “Rmani Rih” sound relatively more conventional, its rhythms more akin to Middle Eastern pop, El Omari’s sliding organ timbres still sound like something from outer space. He was clearly dedicated to getting the most interesting sounds out of his instrument, and Samih’s husky voice keeps the song and its longing melody earthbound. But then the drums that open “Zifaf Filfada” again recall Sun Ra, and ululating vocals alternate with what sounds like a children’s chorus, all while El Omari flies on that crazy organ, gliding between conventional riffs and wild swirls of electronic sound. 
The final album in the series, Nuits De Printemps (Spring Nights), was also unreleased until now. The jazziest of the three, it may be the best place to start with his music. Opener “Rajaat Layoun” evokes the swampy pulse of ‘70s electric Miles, and though El Omari doesn’t have the benefit of an incendiary guitarist like Pete Cosey on hand, the organ lines and rhythms (check that heavily reverbed percussion) make this a wonderfully evocative soundscape. 
Three albums of Abdou El Omari may be more than the average consumer needs, but once a curious listener hears one, they’ll want to hear them all. The organist died in 2010 at the age of 66, and these albums seem to be the only record of his musical work. One can only imagine where he came from and where he went with his explorative spirit. Fortunately, his forward-looking and surprisingly accessible music lives on.
Pat Padua / Spectrum Culture

Abdou El Omari – Nuits D'Été Avec Naima Samih (2017)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Folk, World, & Country
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Radio Martiko, Disques Gam

Tracklist:
A1.   رماني الريح = Rmani Rih
A2.   زفاف في الفضاء = Zifaf Filfada
A3.   خلاني غريبة = Khallani Ghriba
B1.   موسيقى مونريال = Musika Munreal
B2.   توحشنا كلامك = Twahachna Klamak
B3.   رقصة في الليل = Raksatoun Fillail

Credits:
Vocals – Naima Samih
Composed By, Performer – Abdou El Omari

First issue of this previously unreleased Oriental psych monster from the 'organ king of Casablanca and second part of Abdou El Omari's Nuits-trilogy combining traditional rhythms with spaced out modern sounds. This album contains heavenly compositions for the Moroccan diva Najma Samih and some moody instrumentals in a similar vein to the first album. A very curious mixture of traditional Middle Eastern Music with lounge, and even rock music style drumming on several tracks. High quality pressing. Artwork and label design by Pieter Heytens.
Juno Records
The music of organist Abdou El Omari may have first hit Western ears on an early Mississippi Records cassette comp of Moroccan chaabi, but reissue label Radio Martiko has given us a full three albums from the maestro that they dub “the organ king of Casablanca.” These mid-‘70s albums merged North African folk music with a solid dose of psychedelia and space-age fantasy. 
El Omari’s North African psych uses rock rhythm guitar and Farfisa organ but over a more seductive beat. The sometimes mechanized rhythms make it easy to imagine this as music for belly-dancing, but when was the last time you saw a belly-dancer swaying to something that suggested Miles Davis’ psych-monster Agharta? When the organist shifts from Farfisa to ARP, you swear he’d been listening to Sun Ra’s Space is the Place and wish the two organists could have collaborated. 
Each of the three albums has its charms. Nuits D’Été (Summer Nights), originally released in 1976, is mostly instrumental. The nearly 12-minute “Angham Chaabya” shifts from folk chorus to an extended wah-wah guitar solo, followed by the glassy synth lines of the more concise instrumental “Agadir.” The rapid pulse of “Marsoul Alhoub,” on the other hand, approaches a kind of psychedelic drone. One wonders what Moroccan audiences thought of this folk-jazz hybrid 40 years ago, a distinct and almost avant-garde dance music emerging when the rest of the world was shaking their groove thangs to disco. 
The second album in El Omari’s trilogy is a previously unreleased set that adds vocalist Naima Samih, a Moroccan woman who began performing at the age of nine. While tracks like opener “Rmani Rih” sound relatively more conventional, its rhythms more akin to Middle Eastern pop, El Omari’s sliding organ timbres still sound like something from outer space. He was clearly dedicated to getting the most interesting sounds out of his instrument, and Samih’s husky voice keeps the song and its longing melody earthbound. But then the drums that open “Zifaf Filfada” again recall Sun Ra, and ululating vocals alternate with what sounds like a children’s chorus, all while El Omari flies on that crazy organ, gliding between conventional riffs and wild swirls of electronic sound. 
The final album in the series, Nuits De Printemps (Spring Nights), was also unreleased until now. The jazziest of the three, it may be the best place to start with his music. Opener “Rajaat Layoun” evokes the swampy pulse of ‘70s electric Miles, and though El Omari doesn’t have the benefit of an incendiary guitarist like Pete Cosey on hand, the organ lines and rhythms (check that heavily reverbed percussion) make this a wonderfully evocative soundscape. 
Three albums of Abdou El Omari may be more than the average consumer needs, but once a curious listener hears one, they’ll want to hear them all. The organist died in 2010 at the age of 66, and these albums seem to be the only record of his musical work. One can only imagine where he came from and where he went with his explorative spirit. Fortunately, his forward-looking and surprisingly accessible music lives on.
Pat Padua / Spectrum Culture 

Abdou El Omari – Nuits D'Été Avec Abdou El Omari (2016)

Style: Experimental, African, Psychedelic
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Disques Gam, Radio Martiko

Tracklist:
A1.   رجعت العيون = Rajaat Laayoun
A2.   ليالي الصيف = Layali Saif
A3.   أفراح المغرب = Afrah El Maghreb
B1.   هند = Hind
B2.   زفاف في الفضاء = Zifaf Filfada
B3.   مواعيد = Mawa'aid
B4.   فاتن = Fatine

Credits:
Composed By, Performer – Abdou El Omari

Moroccan musician Abdou El Amari was arguably one of the first composers to combine traditional North African music with contemporary Western styles. Amazingly, he only ever released one album: 1976's much sought-after Nuits D'Ete Avec Abdou El Amari. Original copies of that set are notoriously hard to find (if you do score one, it would cost you nearly a grand) making this reissue something of a surprise treat. It's a set of "Arab electronics" - a curious mixture of intoxicating organ motifs, Middle Eastern rhythms programmed on dusty early drum machines, quirky synthesizer melodies, and copious amounts of hashish-inspired tape delay. Even all these years on, it still sounds utterly bonkers, and is well worth further investigation.
Juno Records
The music of organist Abdou El Omari may have first hit Western ears on an early Mississippi Records cassette comp of Moroccan chaabi, but reissue label Radio Martiko has given us a full three albums from the maestro that they dub “the organ king of Casablanca.” These mid-‘70s albums merged North African folk music with a solid dose of psychedelia and space-age fantasy. 
El Omari’s North African psych uses rock rhythm guitar and Farfisa organ but over a more seductive beat. The sometimes mechanized rhythms make it easy to imagine this as music for belly-dancing, but when was the last time you saw a belly-dancer swaying to something that suggested Miles Davis’ psych-monster Agharta? When the organist shifts from Farfisa to ARP, you swear he’d been listening to Sun Ra’s Space is the Place and wish the two organists could have collaborated. 
Each of the three albums has its charms. Nuits D’Été (Summer Nights), originally released in 1976, is mostly instrumental. The nearly 12-minute “Angham Chaabya” shifts from folk chorus to an extended wah-wah guitar solo, followed by the glassy synth lines of the more concise instrumental “Agadir.” The rapid pulse of “Marsoul Alhoub,” on the other hand, approaches a kind of psychedelic drone. One wonders what Moroccan audiences thought of this folk-jazz hybrid 40 years ago, a distinct and almost avant-garde dance music emerging when the rest of the world was shaking their groove thangs to disco. 
The second album in El Omari’s trilogy is a previously unreleased set that adds vocalist Naima Samih, a Moroccan woman who began performing at the age of nine. While tracks like opener “Rmani Rih” sound relatively more conventional, its rhythms more akin to Middle Eastern pop, El Omari’s sliding organ timbres still sound like something from outer space. He was clearly dedicated to getting the most interesting sounds out of his instrument, and Samih’s husky voice keeps the song and its longing melody earthbound. But then the drums that open “Zifaf Filfada” again recall Sun Ra, and ululating vocals alternate with what sounds like a children’s chorus, all while El Omari flies on that crazy organ, gliding between conventional riffs and wild swirls of electronic sound. 
The final album in the series, Nuits De Printemps (Spring Nights), was also unreleased until now. The jazziest of the three, it may be the best place to start with his music. Opener “Rajaat Layoun” evokes the swampy pulse of ‘70s electric Miles, and though El Omari doesn’t have the benefit of an incendiary guitarist like Pete Cosey on hand, the organ lines and rhythms (check that heavily reverbed percussion) make this a wonderfully evocative soundscape. 
Three albums of Abdou El Omari may be more than the average consumer needs, but once a curious listener hears one, they’ll want to hear them all. The organist died in 2010 at the age of 66, and these albums seem to be the only record of his musical work. One can only imagine where he came from and where he went with his explorative spirit. Fortunately, his forward-looking and surprisingly accessible music lives on.
Pat Padua / Spectrum Culture