Recorded in Germany by Beirut native Rabih Abou-Khalil, this moody, atmospheric album is more like a soundscape than a collection of songs.
Abou-Khalil's primary instrument is the oud, a lute-like instrument traditionally used in Arab music.
This low, sweet-toned, obviously Far Eastern instrument is teamed up with nothing more than Arab drums in most of the songs.
Sparse vocals, performed by Selim Kusur, do little to create any discernible melody.
Instead, they add texture and effect -- or an intro in the case of "Incantation." Upbeat songs such as "Awakening" are carried along by the drums, while the melancholy sound of the oud dominates introspective tracks such as "Nafas." This album is a far cry from the complex, percussion-heavy, often slightly jangly albums that usually make it to the world music section in Western record stores.
It is also unlike the techno-influenced worldbeat albums that found popularity amongst certain club circles.
It is a wistful, lonely album.
Its simple, spare instrumentation is its distinguishing feature; after listening to dozens of over-produced, musically complex albums, this one comes as a bit of a relief.
Though certain world music experts consider Abou-Khalil to be an innovator within his subgenre, his music sounds neither new nor old.
It's hard to fit within any time frame.