Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran [Sham Palace, 2012]
From seven weddings and such in southern Syria, 42 board-tape-to-vinyl-only minutes collected by Sublime Frequencies' Mark Gergis and released in an edition of 1000. Why you should want such a fetish object is simple--access to the most intense music you'll hear all year, including anything by Gergis's related discovery Omar Souleyman. It's very male and replete with strange noises: grunts and yelps, chipmunk squeals, and the buzzy overtones of a bamboo flute called the mejwiz--sometimes live, sometimes sampled, sometimes, Gergis says, both. Yes the music drones--it's supposed to. No you won't understand a word they're singing--insofar as they're singing any. A little one-dimensional sure--assuming you're not from southern Syria yourself. A-