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Album Review: 'Thulth' By Tamer Abu Ghazaleh

Tamer Abu Ghazaleh's third album is a dizzying, psychedelia-infused take on the Middle East's rich folk music traditions!

May 29th marks the release of Cairo-born Palestinian singer/songwriter Tamer Abu Ghazaleh’s latest album, Thulth, which draws influence from the unique instrumentation and vocal styles of the Middle East’s currently stagnating folk music traditions. Abu Ghazaleh twists and blends tradition with modern compositional techniques, and brings a genuinely unique sound out of a city still obsessed with DJs and cover bands.

With Thulth, the talented multi-instrumentalist returns to force with his distinctive vocal style, which flows seamlessly between the Palestinian, Egyptian, and Fus’ha dialects. Presenting an unwaveringly confident Middle Eastern authenticity, Thulth is drawn from equal parts Abu Ghazaleh’s own experiences during the Palestinian apartheid, and his upbringing in Egypt; Abu Ghazaleh’s lyricism and homegrown style truly transcend borders. Defying genres, Abu Ghazaleh effortlessly transitions from the trance-like Sufi chanting of Fajrolbeed to the subtly funk-influenced Khabar Ajel and jazz-piano driven Takhabot.

The third in a trilogy of albums, Thulth is a clear step forward in Abu Ghazaleh’s own sonic journey. A bombastic splash of psychedelia accentuates Abu Ghazaleh’s dynamic vocal range, which moves fluidly between folkloric whispers and strained lamentations positively dripping in emotion. A rock-solid rhythm section - comprised of Khyam Allami on drums, Mahmoud Waly on bass, and Khaled Yassine on percussion - augment Abu Ghazaleh’s unconventional riffing on the Oud and Buzuq, giving the record a vibrant, living intensity.

In this latest project, Abu Ghazaleh takes steps away from the frantic, curfew-bound fiery vigour of his previous work and, with the addition of Shadi El Hosseiny (who absolutely shreds on the piano and keys), moves into more musically experimental and instrumentally complex territory. Hardcore music fans will find Thulth rife with strange time signatures, rapid tempo changes, and unorthodox song structures that are a joy to dive into with every listen. As a whole, Thulth is an ecstatically exploratory listen that pushes the boundaries of what we consider “traditional” Middle Eastern music.

Check out the artist's work on SoundCloud and keep up with news of his performances on Facebook