|(LP+ DL) Berlin-based, Jerusalem-born artist Roi Assayag (a.k.a Tropikal Camel) is set to serve up his new album, Awakening Spirits, on Brussels' Rebel Up.
A1 Deja Groove
A2 The Spirits
bonus download - Dreamshadow
“Those are the spirits of my ancestors calling from the Mellah of Meknes, from the mountains of Kurdistan. The unheard voices of my culture, that was taken from me. I shall talk to the spirits, I will heal the wounds. I was asleep, now I am awaken.”
Berlin based, Jerusalem pioneer Roi Assayag aka Tropikal Camel serves up his fantastic new album, ‘Awakening Spirits’ on Brussels based label Rebel Up Records, distilling 20 years of musical experience.
The album title ‘Awakening Spirits’ is a wordplay: in Hebrew & Arabic, winds, spirits & ghosts are the same word - Ruaah. This title is polysemic: spirits are representing the mystic research that is eternal, winds are representing drama and conflict , ghosts are the voices from the past... the word awakening symbolizes the future.
Makom in Hebrew, Maqam in Arabic, which means ‘place’ but is also the name of the melodic system of Arabic music, theory which Roi Assayag has taught himself from youtube tutorials, trying to deepen his connection with the melodies that opened his soul. In those quarter tones he found the drama that he is so connected to. One that is making him feel home.
As Tropikal Camel he casts a spell over audiences from Europe to Africa through the Middle East by blending percussion with a psychedelic edge at places like Nuits Sonores and Nyege Nyege. It is a sound that draws on his Middle Eastern and North African heritage and heads into the future. In the artist’s unique way he fuses elements into a special blend of driven bass, deep pads and chopped chants for a musical journey that continues on this spellbinding new offering.
Roi Assayag: “In order to maintain this raw magic I recorded most of the album live in one take, the way I perform it live on stage. My vision was to create a ceremony in which one experience a release, from his own self, in order to get to their unknown dimension.”
On the A side, deeply moving opener ‘Deja Groove’ immediately sinks you into an enchanting
world of percussive flurries and weightless beats, a ballad of longing to a lost love, was written in dark times with a glimmer of hope.
‘The Spirits’ is a sparse and intoxicating brew of churning drums and Syrian sufi chanting, influenced by music of Aleppo in Syria. Sufi music has a mystic quality, opening the heart and cleansing the soul. This track is in Maqam Sabah, a modus that is representing youth and the process of maturity.
‘Waves’ is a loose and languid mix of lurching grooves, traditional percussion and edgy synth drones that trap you in a trance. It is about the waves of the mediterranean carrying rubber ships. Roi Assayag: “On stage I always dedicate this track to refugees from Syria, reminding me of pictures of my grandmother escaping the war in Europe.”
On the B side, the pressure then builds again with the clattering drums and hits of ‘Zachotronic’. Roi Assayag: “Zacho is the city my great grandfather who came from Kurdistan. It is based on the rhythm of the Davul, a crazy percussion that needs no soundsystem to make the people dance.”
The excellent ‘Beeehave’ slips into darker, almost techno leaning territory. It’s about being wild, not giving a fuck, in a club in Berlin, high!
‘Seashells’ mixes all of the above into an electrifying trip through world sounds that brings plenty of new influences to the dance floor. A track that is based on a memory of a loved one, collecting seashells on a beach.
The moodiness continues on bonus track ‘Dreamshadow’ with its eerie melodies and gently turning drums.
Roi Assayag: ‘Awakening Spirits’ is the soundtrack of my confession room. From moments of loneliness in my room in cold winter, to high peaks, talking to my spirits directly. It is a journey, and now you are a part of the awakening. The spirits are calling - tonight!
a deeply uplifting and spiritual record from a fascinating artist.