Archive for the ‘middle eastern music’ Category

A great love
June 6, 2008

One of the drawbacks of maintaining a decades-long commitment to the promotion of such a broad and constantly-evolving musical idiom as ambient, is the need to ration one’s listening time; the sheer volume of new ambient that’s being produced in the world today precludes the possibility of any one person ever maintaining encyclopedic, up-to-the-minute knowledge of it all.

Consequently, I’ve tended to comprehensively explore the creative output of a number of key artists on a cyclic basis, periodically expanding the list of artists as I go. However, the sequential nature of this approach means that I can easily remain almost completely ignorant of the work of many other artists – even major ones – for years at a stretch.

And then, one day, I’ll stumble across something which grabs me by the throat and beats me about the head repeatedly with its sheer unadulterated, vibrant, radiant, pulsating wonderfulness.

Something which screams “go out and buy every album this person ever produced right now and spend the next three weeks immersing yourself in their brilliance, you ignorant dolt!”

Something like this:

Truly great art by a truly great artist. The lyrics “a great love cut her life” are both prophetic and acutely poignant in light of Ofra Haza‘s tragic death of AIDS-related complications in 2000, at the age of only 42 – a consequence of contracting the HIV virus from her “great love” – husband, Doron Ashkenazi.  

Thankfully we can still delight in her prodigious musical legacy…

Sex Power
April 27, 2008

The following video – evidently a clip from the obscure 1970 film Sex Power by French director Henri Chapier – manages to combine female near-nudity, erotic choreography, a group of black men, a gigantic, leering strangely inflexible cobra and a soundtrack by Vangelis into one seriously Freudian extravaganza. Words fail me:

…and in the interests of gender equality, here’s a rather catchy little number from Turkey’s gift to the world of pop music, the seriously swivel-hipped Tarkan

…and in an attempt to give this post a veneer of cultural respectability, here’s a traditional interpretation of the same piece of classical Ottoman music…

Sacred sounds from north Africa
April 6, 2008

Over the past few weeks my YouTube wanderings have led me in some interesting new directions, as well as reacquainting me with some long-forgotten classics. In this post I’m focusing on the music of two ancient, but little-known (to Western audiences) Christian traditions of north Africa.

First up is music from the orthodox Christian tradition of Ethiopia. These beautifully hypnotic hymns are part of the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and are just a couple of the many dozens of similar examples that have now found their way onto the Web. In my opinion this is one little-known ancient musical tradition which definitely deserves a fuller examination:

 

The Ethiopian Orthodox church has a 1000+ year relationship with another ancient Christian tradition of the Near East – the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, founded in 451 CE, which has 11,000,000 adherents in Egypt, and is led by Pope Shenouda III.  

Those who caught last week’s show (UT #702) will have heard me play several Coptic liturgical chants from a recording by the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe. Here’s a gorgeous Coptic hymn to the Virgin Mary:

UT enters the blogosphere
February 22, 2008

Welcome to the official Ultima Thule blog.

The UT team intend to use this forum to bring our listeners regular updates from across the ambient universe – including new release information, reviews, interviews and lots of other interesting stuff that we can’t, for one reason or other, put to air on the show itself.

We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to your input.

To kick things off, here’s a sample of funky middle-eastern now-sounds from world citizen Natacha AtlasLeysh Natarak? (Why are we fighting?)…

…and a classic 1960s concert performance by the great Egyptian singer Om Kalthoum; popularly known as “the Star of the East”, 4 million people thronged the streets of Cairo for her funeral in 1975, and her albums still outsell those of many contemporary performers nearly 40 years later.  The track is entitled El Ghazaly…