A series of compilations produced by Ziad Nawfal and Fadi Tabbal, The Ruptured Sessions features recordings of music played live on the air by guests of Nawfal’s radio show "Ruptures", broadcast weekly on Radio Liban 96.2FM. These guests include a diverse collection of individuals from Lebanon’s local alternative music scene, and on occasion, an international guest visiting Lebanon. Each of these compilations collects performances of similar or relevant styles.

Volume 5, recorded in Beirut between 2011-2012, is said to document “the city’s younger wave of electronic composers”, including both your typical laptop-caressing beatsmiths, as well as some more “out-there” pieces involving guitars, repetitive loops, and loose improvised structures.

The 8-track album is split into two distinct sections. It starts off with three rhythmic (albeit relatively experimental and adventurous) electronic tracks that have a beat, then reaches a turning point at track 4, which has a bit of what preceded it and a lot of what will follow it. It is the first in a series of lengthy semi-improvised tracks that play on till the end of the album. Personally, I wasn’t too happy about the ratio of structured “beat and all that” tracks to lengthy semi-improvised ones. By no means is this the downfall of the entire compilation, just a personal preference of mine.

The first three tracks are good to actively focus on and analyze, maybe even dance to, while the others should preferably be played while you distract yourself with an external task, such as deep meditation, trying to sleep (warning: do not try this with track 8), or while writing, like I’m doing for this review. Just let the rich soundscapes engulf you and absorb all those weaving aural-textures. Don’t take my word as gospel though, this is just my own approach to listening; you can still dance to any of the tracks if you want to.

Now let’s take a closer listen:

1. RadioKVM – “Aristophanes”: Here we have is a jittery, glitchy, hectic piece of IDM. It’s an enjoyable track through and through with its heavy use of effects, broken beats, and broken glass.

2. Mocques – “Clowns & Elephants/ Religion & Doom (Radio Liban Edit)”: Though still complex and intricate in structure, this beat is more stripped-down and steady, so let’s call it glitch-hop. If RadioKVM’s track was “jittery”, this track is having a seizure, a seizure peppered with glitchy artifacts and stuttering unintelligible speech samples.

3. Jad Atoui – “Impulse”: Lots of “texture” here. The track creeps to a start with an ominous aura and the drum beat kicks in, growing more syncopated now and again. Parallel to that, there’s this subtle rubble-like sound, and samples of bells and violins. I got an Amon Tobin vibe from it (though Atoui cites Autechre and Aphex Twin as primary influences).

4. Liliane Chlela – “Euphonic Discordance”: It took a while to get into, but once you get into it, you’ll appreciate the subtle, painstakingly intricate, details. It slowly builds up with rising synth, crawling sounds, beeps, buzzes, drones, crushed bits, sparse echoey drums, fleeting melodies here and there, and some grandiose orchestral samples (those are awesome).

5. Under The Carpet – “How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Feedback”: A less active track, more ambient with spaced-out guitar work, but there’s a nice payoff at the end: A pounding distorted beat, dissonant electronic noise, squealing saxophone; it goes from ethereal to industrial, and I dig it.

6. Lichens – “Swarmed”: Lichens (US) is one of the international guests the show has hosted, and this track is exemplary of his style. It’s slow, atmospheric, and features nothing but minimal electronic droning, a synthetic percussive loop, and wordless vocalization. The result is rather “spiritual”; the type of thing a monk in a secluded mountain temple would create.

7. Charbel N. Haber & Radwan G. Moumneh – “Burning, Burnt”: This one’s great for just spacing out. There’s some pedal-heavy guitar work that produces some interesting melodies, minimal electronic tweaks, and an ever-present hissing noise. Don’t love it, don’t hate it, but it’s a good trip.

8. Praed – “8Gega”: This is… different. Throughout the piece is a, slightly irritating, oriental synth and percussion loop, on top of that, a slew of beeps and horn squeals, and I think I heard Raed Yassin yelling “yalla” and “hey” near the end. If “Burning, Burnt” transports you to a far away galaxy on the back of a silver space-camel, this will transport you to a Lebanese elephant wedding in Satan’s microwave.

The Ruptured Sessions: Volume 5 album is available at Music Now in Hamra, the Beirut Art Center in Sin el Fil, Video Chico in Hamra and Dar Bookstore in Hamra. You can also buy it online via Cargo, Amazon and iTunes.

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