Anouar Brahem’s ‘Thimar’ sets memories reeling into motion

Updated 17 May 2018
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Anouar Brahem’s ‘Thimar’ sets memories reeling into motion

  • Brahem’s sparse, maqam themes offer a skeleton frame for collective sound-scaping of the most intuitive kind:

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: I can distinctly remember the first time I heard Anouar Brahem’s playing because the circumstances were so cinematically odd. As a wanderlust-struck student sitting in a café in Tangier, Morocco, a sketchy-looking local struck up a rapport and insisted on taking me to a nearby pirate CD shop, where he demanded the owner put on his favorite album.

The sounds which spiraled from the speakers were magical — a spellbinding swirl of oud, woodwind and percussion unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I bought the album on the spot. It was called “Madar” and was co-credited to Tunisian oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem. 

May 18th marks the 20th birthday of “Thimar,” arguably the most enduring recording of Brahem’s glittering, three-decade international career. Brazenly paired alongside two distinguished English jazzmen — bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist/clarinetist John Surman — the “transcultural” conceit exemplifies Brahem’s restless mission to transplant Arabic classical music traditions into an international, improvisational context.  

Brahem’s sparse, maqam themes offer a skeleton frame for collective sound-scaping of the most intuitive kind: Holland’s low growls and Surman’s plaintive cries a sympathetic sonic foil to the oud’s meditative meandering.

Tellingly, Brahem’s is the last voice to be heard, the oud only appearing half-way through the eight-minute opener “Badhra.”

There’s something special about the sparseness of “Thimar,” democratically colored by three largely monophonic instruments, like three wise men in a conversation. 

This is music to think to, not think about — sounds which fire up the synapses and set memories reeling into motion.   

 


King Abdul Aziz Foundation archives around 6,000 interviews with Saudis

Researching and recording oral histories can give a sense of cultural value. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 22 October 2018
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King Abdul Aziz Foundation archives around 6,000 interviews with Saudis

  • Darah assigned a number of specialized teams to carry out visits to the Kingdom’s different regions

RIYADH: The Oral History Center of the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has archived around 6,000 interviews with Saudi nationals past and present, said the Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi Oral History Center was established in 1997. It was the third of its kind in the world, after the United States and Britain.
Darah hosts millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts and is considered the main source of Saudi national history inside the Kingdom, and abroad through the Oral History Center.
Darah assigned a number of specialized teams to carry out visits to the Kingdom’s different regions, speak to citizens about their histories, study sources of national history, and document the accounts of those who directly or indirectly contributed to the Kingdom’s history.
It conducted audio-visual interviews with many contemporaries and witnesses, and transcribed them, and investigated those stories based on scientific and technical protocols. It did this in cooperation with universities and international centers specializing in oral history, and with national and regional institutions interested in oral history and heritage.
Darah sees oral history — a precise account from eyewitnesses, or reported contemporary accounts — as an important resource. Many Western countries place great emphasis on oral histories and have established specialized centers to record and preserve such accounts.
The Foundation also considers oral histories a useful tool that can fill gaps left in recorded history, especially regarding personal histories of families.
Researching and recording oral histories can also provide the elderly with a sense of value and bring generations closer together.