There’s no denying that many of us love music that builds, peaks and explodes in an ecstatic chaotic frenzy. Whole genres of music are based around this concept. There’s something almost spiritual about this experience, it creates a physical reaction in the body, it’s cathartic and transcendent – it makes sense both musically and emotionally.
Swiss/ Lebanese outfit Praed are very much aware of the ecstatic moment, of the chaos, the frenzy, and the adrenalin of when the music coalesces and everything feels just right, despite the fact that it’s often became an almost indecipherable cacophony of noise. In fact they are so aware of it that they have elected to prolong this moment – for an entire album.
It’s quite fascinating, there’s not a lot of foreplay, as when their music begins, there’s a second or two of scene setting and bang, you’re just dropped headlong into whirling chaotic maelstrom of electronics, percussion and clarinet, and it’s exhilarating. It’s so sudden it’s almost fight or flight. You have a choice: run or give yourself over to the music and enjoy the ride. The result is a psychedelic, Arabic kind of freejazz. They’re commonly referred to as psychedelic Shaabi (Arabic popular music), with squealing synths, relentless percussion and a clarinet spitting out various variations of some kind of mysterious eastern belly dance theme. It’s exotica meets electrics, hypnotic stasis that builds by repetition, as the electrics swirl and splutter. It’s not about precision, it’s about feel, and all the messy emotional dopamine responses that entails. Whilst it is loud and chaotic with an unrelenting forward momentum, it never descends into noise. At its heart it maintains a distinctive Arabic groove no matter how loud and chaotic it gets.
Praed are Raed Yassin (keyboards/laptop/ electronics/ vocals and Paed Conca (clarinet/ electric bass/ electronics). They formed in 2006, and their two previous albums were in the main more collage based, consisting mostly of soundscapes of dislocated audio fragments, of vocal, musical and film samples from Egyptian Shaabi and Dabke music pared with free jazz and sprawling electronics. This feels more live, jammier and less manipulated, more like a band than a studio project. It’s definitely more bombastic, pinning your ears back much more than a lot of their earlier output.
They also sound like nothing else around…anywhere. Sure they’re mining an exotic aspect of Arabic popular culture, yet they’re doing so in such an exciting and groundbreaking way, referencing freejazz and electronic music and in the process creating new and hitherto unknown genres of sound that sets the pulse racing. You can’t ask for much more than that.