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Alsarah & the Nubatones

- Beirut & Beyond

Alsarah considers any type of music as three-dimensional creatures, fully composed with heads, hearts, arms, legs, memories, loads and sorrows. As is known, it really doesn’t take much more to realize that the strange really is quite familiar. This valuable insight came to the expatriate Sudanese through her work as an ethnomusicologist, which she since has brought out in full bloom with Alsarah & The Nubatones.

To make a concrete example: “Habibi Taal”, the languorous opening track from their debut record Silt, is a traditional wedding song from their homeland. The primarily male, arabian cultural elite in Sudan love when they have the opportunity to make fun of tracks like this – the only gap in the public where women are allowed to talk about their romantic feelings. By taking the song under her wings, Alsarah is stating that this music is also worthy of existence.

Although Alsarah have been living in Brooklyn since 1994, she still feels like a Sudanese in New York. This may as well explain why Silt – with its gorgeous oud-solos and the likes – sounds like a musical time capsule dating back to the Nubian sixties, rather than something that actually was created in the hyper-globalized year of 2014.

Alsarah still is no nostalgic nationalist, though, which is proven by the club-ready remix album that closely followed Silt. By highlighting both the link and the distance between now and then, she and her partners-in-crime make the point that we should never forget our past. After all: Without the small and big struggles that came before we wouldn’t be.

Text: Kim Klev

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