This is Bachar's second album following his critically acclaimed debut "Oil Slick" (InFine, 2010) With songs tried and tested on the live stage, the album showcase Bachar's skill on piano, synthesiser, loop station, bass pedalboard, percussion, and of course his striking voice.
Born in war-torn Lebanon, the son of the legendary Eastern-Lute player Marcel Khalife, Bachar arrived in France in 1989 to go to school and study music (along with his brother Rami of fellow Infine band Aufgang) at the Conservatoire. In order to differentiate himself
from both father and brother, Bachar soon added another string to his bow by taking up percussion. He developed an interest in the traditional repertoire from an early age, to the great dismay of his father who pictured him more as a conductor!
On "K-Cinerea", Bachar speaks as a young father to a son about birth and the worlds it conjures up. One evening, while partying at Francesco Tristano's - who introduced him to minimal techno - he heard "Mirror Moon", a song by his father, that Francesco was mixing with electro. This song, based on a rhythmic cell, has strong interconnections with electronic music as Bachar's hybrid rework makes as clear as day.
"Machins Choses", one of Gainsbourg's magical B sides, revisited here with the help of Kid A, this version replaces the original's casual manner for the uncertainty and doubt of their generation, in times that Bachar sees as more troubled than 1960-era France. "Ya Nas" is a traditional Kuwaiti song, which Bachar turns into a hymn to anarchistic freedom. Longing for a drink, for others, for flesh, for transgression...
"Marea Negra" is a cover of a revolutionary song symbolising the Arab Spring. The words are by Syrian poet Ibrahim Qashoush, who had protested against the system through song - "It's time for you to go Bachar" - and was later found dead, his vocal cords torn out. Our Bachar makes the poet's words universal and hammers them home. "Xerîbî" too is a cover, of a song by Kurdish singer Ciwan Haco, which conveys the agony of exile as well as the hopes of a nation. Here again, Bachar adjusts the original to his Universalist ideals, replacing Kurdistan with Utopia. "My country", he says.
Armed with a little inquisitiveness, we are set to gain in strength, beauty and freedom by listening to Bachar Mar-Khalife!
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.