Omar Souleyman is this Syrian bloke who mostly plays weddings, though since Sublime Frequencies started releasing compilations of his stuff internationally he has started touring in the West and playing festivals (he is, for instance, on the bill for popular Irish festival the Electric Picnic). His musical style is called dabke, a popular type of music in the Levant associated with an arms-round-shoulders formation line-dance.
What is interesting musically about Souleyman is the way he manages to make music that sounds routed in tradition while also sounding contemporary and (post-)modern. Hearing the music, you can sense its origins in a folk music past, and the musicians do use acoustic instruments on some tracks. At the same time, it sounds very contemporary, with heavy use of synths and programmed beats. In that respect, you could say it is a bit like Algerian Raï, but to my ears it sounds a good bit more melodious. Souleyman himself (physically distinctive with his tache, shades, and keffiyeh) does the vocals, while his partners in crime look after the synths and instruments.
These mental sounds (kind of like a Middle Eastern Scooter, according to my beloved) are frenetic and infectious. Frankly, they would make any confirmed bachelor consider entering into the holy bonds of matrimony if only it could lead to having Souleyman playing at his wedding.
Has anyone ever heard any Turbofolk music from Serbia and its neighbours? I wonder if, in a weird way, it sounds like this.
An inuit panda production