NGOMA 21: دبكة — Syria For Ever


In Gaziantep, an old Turkish city on the Eastern and Southern Most part of the country, bordering Syria, i had the fortune of meeting 2 Syrian young men who were involved in the initial student and popular uprising, part of the so-called “Arab Spring”.  They were among the most charming, intelligent, funny and friendly guys i’ve ever met, and had become wanted men and refugees, one of them with a price on his head, hiding out in Turkey.  They told inspiring and harrowing stories of the spontaneous peaceful demonstrations against the oppressive Assad regime, how it kept going in the face of brutal repression by police and military.  And of how the government, in 2011, released thousands of jihadists from prison, while the revolutionary political prisoners stayed in captivity and continued to be tortured, in order to dilute the rebellion, to brand the opposition as extremists, and create a false choice for the population, of either government or fundamentalism.  Shortly after that, the US backed jihadist group known as ISIS or ISIL infiltrated, and the country has been steadily torn apart by violence, its infrastructure crippled, its glorious ancient cities destroyed, creating multiple and massive humanitarian nightmares.

In addition to first hand accounts of these events, one of these guys also gave me a collection of amazing contemporary Syrian Debkah, a modern dance music with ancient roots, very popular in many parts of the Middle East.


In these extremely trying times, and when news media coverage of the country is filled with nothing but tragedy, let us never forget the incredible cultural wealth of Syria, and the powerful, beautiful majesty of Syrian music.


The only exposure to Dabkah in the West in recent years has been Omar Suleyman, whose popularity might be due to the rough and simplistic aspects of his music being appealing to “alternative” music fans, or maybe it’s just luck.  In Syria he is considered an unimportant and low level musician, something like an ignorant redneck.  But he not only makes sub-standard Dabke (I’ve realized after listening to the music on this mix), but has also dedicated one of his songs to the Assad regime, and never once spoke or sang about the struggles of the Syrian people, living a wealthy life in Turkey.  Even though one of his tunes appeared in NGOMA 04, I will likely not be playing much of his music in the future.

FUSION 5 – هلاك / Apocalypse

neocolonialism. exploitation. corporate greed. systemic oppression. global warming. over population. rising oceans. resource depletion. military conflict. economic collapse. mass extinction. hurricanes. famine. disease. hunger. war. annihilation.

FUSION 5 - Apocalypse by Djzhao on Mixcloud


01 Amina Alaoui & Jon Balke – Itimad X L-Wiz – Smogged
02 Ora Sittner & Youval Micenmacher – Dror Iqra X Scuba – Sleepa
03 23 Skidoo – G-2 Contemplation X Marc Ashken – Roots Dyed Dark (Skream Remix)
04 Kambarkan Folk Ensemble – Jygach Ooz Komuz X Dj Distance – Nomad
05 Sarah Webster – A Lesson Twice Learned / Drum Talk X Pinch & Loefah – Broken
06 JilJilala – Unknown X JuJu – Iroko
07 Fawzy Al-Aiedy – Milad X Toasty – Like Sun
08 Hossam Ramzy & Phil Thornton – Immortal Egypt X dj quest & eskimo – Speakers Corner (Instrumental Death Edit)
09 Unknown – Arab Flute X Zen Militia – Pull of Guilt (Scuba Remix)
10 Unknown – Morocco Belly Dance X Substep Infrabass Monotonium
11 Guem – Royal Dance X Shed – Panamax Remix
12 Unknown – African Tribal Drums X Unkown – UK Grime
13 Reda Darwish – Raqset El Banat X Headhunter – Drop The Waste
14 Remko Scha – Machine Guitars Slam X Skream – Backwards
15 Andy Moor – Uganda Fly X Loefah – Fire Elements
16 Sir Richard Bishop – Blood Stained Sands X Tunnidge – Face Melt
17 Sijano Vodjani – Dedication X King Midas Sound – Earth a kill ya

FUSION 4 – Djinn Bass


Grounded in the rhythmic traditions and tonal language of North Africa and the Middle East*, Djinn Bass fuses Sufi Ritual Music and Club Beats, Sacred Egyptian Hymns and Abstract Dub, Classic Rai and Dubstep, Turkish Taqsim and Tech House, Moroccan Chaabi anthems and Tribal Electro.  Ouds, Flutes, and Darbukas mix and blend with electronic pulse; vocal refrains underpinned by digital bass, sometimes chopped, looped, and dubbed out.  Decidedly anti short-attention-span, as the FUSION series have increasingly become, the tracks are long because duration is essential for the ecstatic and immersive nature of this music.


01 Georges Kazazian-Sagate Tassabih + Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Pattern 4
02 Salam E Varzesh – E Bastani + Sideshow – African Cherry (Zhao Extended Edit)
03 Farhang Sharif – Pishdaramad Homayoun + J Kenzo-Conqueror
04 Yaşar Akpençe – Kings of Tomorrow + Jason Cheiron – Afrotastico
05 Unknown – Sultana + Doomwork-Isla
06 Flutes Gasba Du Nord – Est De L’Algerie + Uncle Bakongo – Makonde
07 Es’lam Yfattar_VS_Dj Gregory-Elleeol Ritual (Zhao Percussive Mix)
08 Cheikha Rimitti – Mohammed Ay Sidi + Dj Jeroenski – African nights + Roska – Squark
09 Tabla Voyage – Tablat Barhum + Roska – Jackpot
10 Nass El Ghiwane – Salif Albattar + Zombie Disco Squad – The Dance
11 Nass El Ghiwane – Iahmami + Raw Artistic Soul-Keep On Shining
12 Scarab – Fall of The Towers of Convention + Dead Can Dance – Saldek + Foiledtorsos – The Specialist
13 Ali Hassan Kuban – Walla Abshero + Malente & Dex – Bangkok (James Braun & Dan M Remix)
14 Birol Yayla & Şenol Filiz – Outro


*for a different take on North African and Arabic flavors, get into NGOMA 9.