As so many friends and colleagues face ongoing warfare and violence, I hope we resist reducing them to victims – that we both keep active and keep their humanity in view. On this Bandcamp Friday, Gaza is again calling. From a mix last week for Refuge Worldwide, here’s an hour of Palestinian experimental producers and Palestinian labels and adjacent music and where to go support it.
I have so many words echoing through my head these days, but the value of music and sound is the ability to connect these in ways when words fail. Across this mix are some dear friends and some strangers, in some urgent sense in the senselessness.
Full track listing:
Gazelleband – Mawtini (My homeland)
Checkpoint 303 – Gaza Calling
Yotzeret Sheydim – Practicing Empire Toppling Techniques
BOUNCYDUCK – Shari’ Al Shuhada (Martyr’s Street)
Dakn داكنْ – in the lack خارج الداخل
ANTS – When? Near! \ مَتَىٰ ؟ قَرِيبٌ feat Bint Mbareh
P KIRN – Seaside song – Beirut
Muqata’a – Dirasat ‘Ulya دِراسات عُليا
UmKuBu & Firas Shehadeh – 01011
Asifeh – Casio – كاسيو
MinhaGhranNoite – G
GAZZI – Pomegranates (Oldyungmayn Remix)
GOM – شرنقة Below Above
ODDZ – HER
Dirar Kalash – Second Set (at the Chapel of the Divine Child – Bethlehem University)
Akram Abdulfattah – Release
Relevant to add, a statement from Refuge Worldwide, the platform that hosts my POST program:
Statement on the German Cultural Boycott [Refuge Worldwide]
You can go back through all my POST episodes and various hair configurations on Refuge Worldwide’s site:
Before we get to my selections, womenofnoise have compiled various fundraisers on Bandcamp:
This episode of POST is almost all Palestinian artists and/or labels. To that, I added a track made from a field recording on the sea in downtown Beirut, partly as my recognition of my own privilege to be able to go to both places. The songs of these kids there in Lebanon kept echoing as I watched horrors along the sea in Gaza – at one point, I read reports that occupation forces prevented people from bathing. People were attempting to drink seawater as fresh water ran out. It’s not enough to go to these places or play this music and separate ourselves from these horrors.
Significantly, that’s on the sprawling CEASEFIRE NOW compilation by L_KW, Decolonoize, and partners – so it’s also on Brazil’s Seminal Records, as part of a decentralized scheme. This is not a vehicle for self-promotion; it’s a chance to be counted at a time when lists of support can be weaponized and used as tools for repressing views.
I do recommend going to some of these releases, since as usual you can source this via Bandcamp directly from the artists and labels involved:
This beautiful oud solo at the beginning is an “alternative Palestinian national anthem” by Muhammad Fleifel / Gazelleband:
Checkpoint 303 I hadn’t found before, but they’ve got plenty to explore, mixing field recordings with the music and political messages:
Yotzeret Sheydim was my wildcard entry – western Pennsylvania is where my maternal family grew up. This seems just the sort of deep, radical, unfound sounds that are why I hope something like Bandcamp is always on the Internet. (There are some other ideas – more on that separately.) They’ve gone on with more even since I downloaded this. I like the description of the artist: “Demon making noise. Harsh jewelry jazz.” They definitely do not mince words on the album title, but – that is exactly the sort of political freedom I hope people find in releasing music independently online. (The music I found expressive, as I said, in ways words really cannot be for me right now.)
BOUNCYDUCK writes of their music, “Words can’t say enough in my case, so I tried to summon all my bent up feelings and my life in Palestine in an album that could give a miniscule idea of what it’s like living under an occupation that has no sense of humanity nor mercy.”
Our late friend Odai comes up twice on this mix, of course. ANTS was the duo of him and Italy’s Soulless, here with vocals from Dina (Bint Mbareh though it will sound strange if you call her that in person). The whole compilation while I’ve mentioned it before is worth revisiting:
Muqata’a is just the greatest, so – buy his music if you haven’t.
Asifeh is another legend of production – “Casio” comes from a fuzzier, more lo-fi take:
MinhaGhranNoite is someone else I dug up while doing this, but you’ll find rich improvised sounds and I expect someone I follow can give us the whole story:
GAZZI is one more wildcard, tossing in Berlin-based Palestinian-Egyptian artist Oldyungmayn in a remix of a (Spanish? not sure?) artist on Lima’s label Terror Negro. But that’s just the sort of mixed-up diaspora collaborative decentralized sound that also deserves a place in this mix, and I regret not doing a callout for this one just so people knew the track was called “Pomegranates”:
Palestine’s GOM is an acronym: “Ghostovmyself is channeling sci-fi dystopian heavy sounds and soul.” From 2018, this gem:
The label HARARA was a hope for something greater – a label between Haifa, Ramallah, and Berlin. We should find a way to pick up some of its vision. Here’s ODDZ, aka Odai:
The track by UmKuBu & Firas Shehadeh comes from the Gaza skatepark compilation we covered with an interview with Odai. As I said before, I can’t really even fathom going back and reading this now. But do listen to that compilation.
The selection from Dakn I wrote about back in November 2020, even before things started to go still more wrong. Lots of love to this soul:
The extraordinary Dirar Kalash was the hit of this mix – I had several people asking what it was. It’s from a live performance at Bethlehem University in February 2023; that university can count itself the first higher education institution founded in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is simply haunting. At Odai’s urging, I wrote about Dirar and his contribution to Sonic Liberation Front – and the support of the music community did manage to care for him, another example of how often Odai thought of others irst.
I undercounted the Americans on my broadcast; Akram Abdulfattah is a Palestinian-American violinist, composer, and producer with some utterly gorgeous outings. This is “Release,” part of a “deep ambient music that guides the soul to inner peace and harmony, release and freedom.”
Updated: This just in – production debut from our friend falyakon:
This is from a forthcoming compilation pairing artists from Palestine and Haiti, on New York-based imprint PTP. Their statement is moving:
this is not about charity.
the intention and hope is that this compilation inspires while also providing another space for us – poets of word and sound – to actively make pace against those who perpetuate death,
as the artist’s role is that of a truth teller.
100% of the sales will go towards our people in Palestine and in Haiti (50/50) via:
Urgent Support for Medical Professionals in Gaza
Cultural Capital Haiti
It’s not enough to simply play music – we need to support the bodies of friends, colleagues, family, and their loved ones. If you live in the United States, many organizations are actively working to support a full ceasefire (including through city resolutions). It’s also vital to reinstate funding for UN aid agency UNRWA – without this body, Palestinians are immediately losing access to water, food, medicine, and other supplies. This can’t be overstated – here’s a podcast with someone explaining how something as simple as life-sustaining medicine becomes immediately inaccessible.
(Al Jazeera, while funded by the Qatari government, is unique at the moment in that they have extensive first-hand resources inside Gaza at a time when Israel is not allowing entry to international press.)
Not to necessarily prioritize these two organizations in any way, but if you need a quick way to take that action as a US citizen, both Jewish Voice for Peace and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee have set up actions, with Congress and executive (State Department) targets, respectively. Whatever you think of these organizations, their language here is consistent with what you can follow from the aid organizations and NGOs themselves, the folks on the ground.
Outside the USA, UNRWA is trying to collect funds directly. You can access their site:
There may be better resources or actions; I’ll keep readers updated.
I’m not sure how else to say this and maybe it’s blunt, but – people need to be alive to be able to make music. Bizarrely, sometimes this point gets lost.
As I write this, there are still echoes of a ceasefire. I dream of a day when we share this music and … there are no particular events around them, and we just listen in better days. For all of you.
Take care, everyone.