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Ishtirak’s Debut Album Is a Sonic Uprising From Post-Collapse Beirut

The nearly hour-long instrumental album is a blend of post-rock, progressive rock, and electronic elements, enriched with Arabic Maqam influences.

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 Ishtirak’s Debut Album Is a Sonic Uprising From Post-Collapse Beirut

Lebanese multi-instrumentalist trio Ishtirak have released their debut self-titled album on Thawra Records. ‘Ishtirak’, which translates to "communication, participation, or subscription" in Arabic, takes on a deeper meaning in Lebanon, referring to the powerful cables connecting residents to private generators in a country with an unstable electrical grid. This title reflects the band's intent to connect and share through their music amidst the nation's ongoing struggles.

The nearly hour-long instrumental album is a blend of post-rock, progressive rock and electronic elements, enriched with Arabic Maqam influences. Composed by Dylan Greene, Samah Boulmona, and Jeremy Thal, ‘Ishtirak’ features pulsating synths, intricate percussion and unique instrumentation. Recorded in Beirut in 2021, the album reflects the city's situation in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion and economic collapse. Fuel and electricity shortages influenced the band's recording process, requiring them to work between power cuts.

Ishtirak's music navigates these limitations, presenting a layered soundscape with synths, guitars and percussion. The opening track, ‘Mtalat’, establishes the album's dense and textured sound. This track sets the initial tone with its combination of electronic and acoustic elements. Tracks like ‘Issavibe’ incorporate traditional Dabke elements, experimenting with odd time signatures and diverse instrumentation to create a blend of modern and traditional sounds. This track integrates rhythmic complexity and cultural elements.

‘Master Wansetha’ contrasts with its subdued atmosphere, featuring processed instrumentation and Eastern chord progressions. This track provides a more contemplative section within the album, showcasing the band's range. The experimentation continues with ‘Bubblehorn’, an ambient soundscape built on Eastern percussion, drone-like sounds, and subtle layers of horns. This track emphasizes ambient textures and spatial soundscapes.

‘Khamsa Amper’ focuses on rhythm, incorporating distorted saxophones for added texture and rhythmic emphasis. The track's driving beat and saxophone lines highlight the band's approach to rhythm and sound. ‘Zubala’ is notable for its prominent Eastern instrumentation, blending traditional and modern sounds. This track exemplifies the band's integration of cultural heritage with contemporary music.

The album explores sound, culture, and resilience, with each track contributing to the overall theme of connection and endurance. ‘Ishtirak’ serves as a document of the band's journey and the broader context of their environment, illustrating the role of music in communication and perseverance.

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