Following a series of three compilations and a live release, Wenu Wenu marks Omar Souleyman's first studio album. Produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) and recorded primarily live in the studio,Wenu Wenu distils Omar's enthralling live performances into a fury of ascending and descending techno scales Souleyman, who grew up in Ra’s al’-Ayn (the northeastern region of Jazeera) characterizes his dabke (a foot stomping circle dance which men and women perform together) style as patricularly flexible–”it works with everything.” His sound consists of phase-shifted keyboard solos with an intensely paired vocal delivery. Together with keyboardist-composer Rizan Sa’id, the pair has emerged as a staple of folk-pop, changing the vibe of weddings throughout the Middle East. To date, the two have issued more than 500 live-recorded cassette albums. “Jani” (1996) was Souleyman’s first hit in Syria which brought him cassette-kiosk infamy and major recognition throughout the country. His first exposure outside the Middle East was on Sublime Frequencies’ 2004 “I Remember Syria” and later in 2011 with a remix of Bjork’s “Crystalline.” In addition, he has also joined up with Caribou and Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz. After three compilations and a live album, this album is Omar’s first to be recorded in a studio. Produced by Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, Souleyman was pleased with Hebden for capturing him and Sa’id at their purest with very little overdubbing. In regards to studio collaborator Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet, Omar says “Rizan performs on keyboards, I sing, and Kieran mixes. I was not familiar with his work before, but I was told he is very good. Right now, I can’t say. After the cassette comes out, I can listen to it and then judge.” Souleyman’s intent with the new album is to engage listeners in Turkey, Kurdistan, and Iraq with lyrics in their respective languages – i.e. to express the same musical soul in new accents. In response to a question about whether or not he feels that it’s his duty to present a positive vision of Syria and its culture at such a brutally trying time for his country, Souleyman leans forward, and says slowly, “Of course, why else would we come here?”
The album features artwork by multidisciplinary artist Spencer Sweeney and layout by Rob Carmichael, SEEN.
The LP comes on heavyweight vinyl housed in a hand-numbered classic tip-o