We live in a digital world saturated by music from all corners of the earth. Sometimes, it can be challenging to sift through the never ending Rolodex of music, and find tracks which really hit home. Tracks which really connect meaning to the music in an authentic way.

In the world of house (deep, progressive, etc), we hear instruments, techniques, and musical elements from all over the world. These elements are featured in many house tracks, and are considered the defining features of many artists’ sounds.

At times, however, myself and others must wonder “what are the roots of these featured, non-western musical elements?” What are the traditions in which these elements derive from? Who do these elements really belong to?

As house overtakes the world, it’s important for listeners everywhere to engage with music that authentically ties non-western music back to its roots. There are so many incredible producers out there who have grounding in the traditions where the non-western music we all love, comes from.

Souq records, best known as a middle eastern electronic music label, has been pushing out stellar music from middle eastern artists from its inception. Featuring tracks whose genres range from ambient to techno, they bridge the gaps between producer, listener, and musical tradition with each release. In celebration of their 1000th day as a label, Souq has re-issued 20 songs from their back catalog; a compilation titled “Stories of the Past”. 

Boshoco – Awal (Original Mix)

First release this yearBoshoco – Tressé EPPreviews https://tinyurl.com/y7cuocqoPre-Order https://tinyurl.com/y97ygmyfRelease date ~ 15th of Janauary Video by Nashwan Marzook

Publicado por Souq Records en Jueves, 4 de enero de 2018

Musical traditions stretching from Serbia, to Egypt, to Tunisia and beyond are woven intelligently and beautifully into electronic music within “Stories of the Past”. This compilation truly highlights the best of the best from Souq. Below, I’ll review a few of my favorite tracks from the compilation.

MiRET’s remix of Aguizi & Fahim’s “Ahl El Magna”, is a more down-tempo recreation of the original mix. Featuring some Wurlitzer, Egyptian traditional instruments, and an interesting, echoing take on the original vocal, this remix is groovy, synthy, and remains driving although pretty down tempo.

After all, Ahl El Maghna are the eternal “People of Song”, while “Al Beat” is a classical Arabic ode to the Beat that keeps us all moving. The remix fluctuates effortlessly between contemporary electronic sounds, and its Egyptian roots. From the track’s description on SoundCloud:

“Darb is the path, Darb is the route, and Darb is the road. Like the Silk Routes of the past, for thousands of years, Egyptians have taken to the Darb to get where they need to go. Whether it was a 3 month haul through the Sahara for trade, or a year long journey to secure food & water. We are all on one Darb or another, in constant flux and motion, from where we were, to where we are, then where we want to be.”

Serbian producer Tebra creates music inspired by Balkan ethnic music, and other types of world music, which is conveyed in his track “Gora”. His track, meaning “forest” in Serbian, has deep roots in folklore; the vocals recorded by his sister, Jovana. Featuring duduk, flutes, synths, santur, and saz, this track is the perfect mix between deep house and traditional music. This creation delivers something driving and contemporary, while remaining true to its roots, and filled with intense imagery. From the track’s description on SoundCloud:

“Beaming through the trees in dense brush strokes, we see sunlight and hear an enchanting fusion of acoustic and electronic guitars that mingle, coil, and unravel together like rich tree roots. Deep in the woods, leaves rustle and branches shoot upwards…the words she sings come from an old Serbian folklore song, telling the tale of a girl who enters the forest heartbroken and comes out of it cured, and complete.”

Understanding the relationship between music and the identity of its origins is important for any listener. In Sander and Jugurtha’s “Le Regard du Loup”, a tapestry of Tunisian identity is intricately woven throughout this track. A 2 minute, 30 second instrumental intro features a number of traditional instruments such as the oud, Saz, Sarangi and darbouka. These organic sounds resonated deeply with me. Art, history, and technique are all merged into one throughout this beautiful creation. From the track’s description on SoundCloud:

“The heart of Tunisia’s identity is nurtured by the darbouka, a Middle-Eastern chalice-shaped drum dating back to Babylonia and Sumer from 1100 BBC. Sander plays one crafted by one of the last Tunisian darbouka makers, dangling rhythms that envelope the melody with warmth and character”.

Lastly, check out the live video of Shkoon performing their track “Jarra”. Live electronic music, vocals, and everything in between really hits home. What Shkoon presents is a masterful blend of acoustic and digital, strings and synth.

Every track on this compilation tells a story rooted in deep, historic musical tradition. In the age of appropriation and exoticism, “Stories Of The Past” presents a string of refreshing, real, organic sounds for listeners across the globe. There are 16 other unmentioned tracks which all deserve a thorough listen! Check them out here, and let us know your favorites.

Thanks for the read.

Hunter x