[This album was released by French label NAHAL Recordings in June 2023, under catalog number NAHAL015. The text and credits below are taken from the album's release page on Bandcamp, with permission from NAHAL]
August 4th, 2020. Beirut explodes. The city, already partially shuttered by covid lockdowns and reeling from numerous political and social crises, is submerged by dust and smoke. Destroyed, gutted, at the mercy of a destiny unsparing with its blows, it finds itsels on its knees just when its residents were hoping for a moment of calm.
At Tunefork Studios, in the district of Bourj Hammoud, where Fadi Tabbal assembles the creations of adventurous musicians from all over the world (Field Works, Asil Ensemble, Mike Cooper, Oiseaux-Tempête, Praed, Youmna Saba), work goes on despite the storms raging around a community weary with grief. The recording studio still stands after the collapse, but other places did not survive. Many clubs and social spaces are in ruins. They were made of brick and mortar - no match against explosive ammonium nitrate - but they were first and foremost necessary and unifying refuges, cultural symbols full of a passion that not even the rising dawn could abrade.
Initially the soundtrack to an experimental film by Nadim Tabet, the four tracks of Enfin la nuit accompanied images of a Beirut youth that was still dancing at euphoric parties, just a few months before the explosion. This time around, the two major players of the Lebanese music scene Charbel Haber (Scrambled Eggs, The Bunny Tylers, Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra, Malayeen...) and Fadi Tabbal (The Bunny Tylers, The Incompetents...) are the actors of that film, in which the story unfolds in real time. Amidst the rubble, is it real life or another movie?
Taking the form of an itinerary, the journey begins up high, in the sky, under the partially veiled canopy of yesterday's tragedies. Drawn-out effects-laden guitar layers and modular synthesiser patches pile up, as if levitating. The submerged vocal loops of singer Julia Sabra (Postcards) haunt the next piece, "Chaque rose porte en elle une petite mort". A slow cosmic ethereal ascent towards an other place with unquantifiable dimensions. We then plummet down thousands of miles in "Couvre-feu", a sonic lament where the notes flow under the bow like tears. There's a synthesizer riddled in ennui, electric nostalgia, voiceless and wordless but still so close in feeling to a real malaise.
We arrive at our destination, where the end doubles as a luminous opening. "La certitude de l'aube" is a sophisticated superposition of several guitar and synth lines - sometimes distant, filtered through a powerful reverb, other times right up close, liquid and undulating. It's a surprisingly spatial piece that opens new horizons as it progresses, to end up in a scenery larger than life, that finally evaporates in a final murmur.
Haber and Tabbal love cinema. They give the image a second narration and turn a chain of sequences into a story to get lost in. In their language, a few words are enough to build the textures of an entire sonic world. Just a guitar plugged into effect pedals and a few synthesizers behind these long poetic sentences, where the softness and the gradual drowsiness are only there to recall the ever-lurking violence. We're close in spirit here to the ambient music of Stars of the Lid, or the approach of composers like Terry Riley and Arvo Pärt, backdropped by a certain stifled chaos specific to the changing moods of the city of Beirut. Enfin la nuit is a requiem for all the fallen bodies, for those who resist, of flesh and rock, of blood and music.
released June 2, 2023
Music composed, performed and recorded by Charbel Haber and Fadi Tabbal at Tunefork Studios, Beirut.
Vocal loops on "Chaque rose porte en elle une petite mort" by Julia Sabra.
Mixed and mastered by Camille Jamain.
Photographs by Myriam Boulos. Design by Thibault Proux.
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