Art or music? Jeddah duo finds freedom in both

Abdulmalik Zubailah. ( (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 25 December 2018
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Art or music? Jeddah duo finds freedom in both

  • Statues of Sinking Men celebrate release of debut album with rooftop launch party
  • “I never thought this would be happening here in my hometown,” said Zubailah

JEDDAH: Jeddah-based music duo Statues of Sinking Men are known for their stirring live performances — an irony since the band make every effort to stay out of the spotlight.
“The idea is for the audience to notice us as little as possible,” said Abdullah Babrouk, who produces art and visuals to accompany Abdulmalik Zubailah’s beats and vocals. “The focus is meant to be on the music.”
Statues of Sinking Men celebrated the release of their debut album on Friday night with a rooftop launch party. The self-titled album is the first offering from the band since their formation in 2017, and has been in development since October that year.
Zubailah’s music is only part of the duo’s show, with Babrouk’s mesmerizing visuals the main focal point.
Using little more than a synthesizer and a microphone, Zubailah manages to create music that is both complex and catchy, with soulful lyrics that express a variety of emotions.
“Statues of Sinking Men is an outlet for me to express everything I could never say with words alone,” said Zubailah. “The good, the bad and everything in between, with full freedom.”
Babrouk uses a computer program to create visual effects live and in time with the music — a demanding process that requires intense concentration. The combined effect of music and art is ethereal, as much live art performance as musical performance.

Winter breeze
The launch party was hosted by Mnassa and held on the roof of their office in Al-Zahraa. Admission was free, and a sizeable crowd showed up to support the musicians on a cool December night, accompanied by a full moon and a winter breeze.
Up-and-coming musician GHADA opened the show with her haunting, powerful vocals.
Later, she told Arab News that she was delighted to have been asked to perform at the event. “I never thought that I would actually be doing this. I’m still processing everything that’s happening. But I’m glad it is happening.”
Statues of Sinking Men performed their latest album, with visual accompaniments projected on to a wall behind the stage.
Zubailah stepped on stage in a custom-made sea captain’s jacket, styling himself “The Deceased Captain Bartholomew Bellik.” With Babrouk as his seafaring companion “Xabris Black,” the performers told the story of a failed sea voyage, an untimely death and, ultimately, a rebirth.
“I was on the sea with them when I listened to the music,” one concertgoer said after the show. “I heard the waves in it. I felt the salt spray. It was bizarre, but it was interesting. I loved it. I can’t wait to attend another performance.”
The band also had a few surprises for the crowd. While performing “Criminal,” audience members were invited to “be criminals with them” as Babrouk handed over a PlayStation controller, which audience members could use to deliver the PlayStation classic “Hotline Miami” in accompaniment to the song.
After the show, Babrouk and Zubailah said they were exhausted, but immensely happy at the success of the event.
“I never thought this would be happening here in my hometown,” said Zubailah. “It’s so liberating.”
Asked if he had anything else to add, Zubailah replied with a grin: “Come to one of our shows and embrace the stage of sentimental night.”
Statues of Sinking Men can be found on Twitter and Instagram, and their music is available on all major music streaming and purchasing providers.


Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi attack on Yemen UN monitors

Updated 57 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemns’ Houthi attack on Yemen UN monitors

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Friday strongly condemned the targeting of “UN personnel by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen” after cease-fire monitors came under fire.
The attack took place on Thursday in Hodeidah, where a truce agreed in talks in Sweden came into force last month.
The Houthi militia “have violated their signed commitments in Stockholm and continue to flout international law and escalate their aggression against the Yemeni people,” Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted on Friday.


The UN said one round of small arms fire struck a UN-marked armored vehicle that was part of convoy carrying chief monitor Patrick Cammaert.
The UN monitors arrived in Hodeida — the entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s imports — on Dec. 23. The UN Security Council this week agreed to expand the force to 75 monitors.