Where do you head to when your entire homeland is on fire, and the light at the end of the tunnel gets weaker with each passing day? Like many other Syrians, the 26-year-old art student Samer Saim Aldhr sought shelter from the crossfire in Aleppo. He found it in Beirut, Lebanon, the greatest safe haven for creative souls throughout the Middle East.
But, unfortunately, geographical escape isn’t always enough. Body and head may also crave for a more abstract form of refuge, so-called escapism. Zimo, which is Aldhr’s nickname, isn’t really putting the Syrian civil war completely behind him with Hello Psycholeppo! It’s more like an escape from this reality into another one, where Aleppo – rather than London – constitute the major club hub of Planet Earth.
Whenever a roof collapses, it takes the shape of rumbling, danceable bass; when a gun shot is heard, it sounds rather like shimmering synths; a cry for help turns into a catchy lament. This is aggressive music, though with a hopeful longing of returning home smoldering at the bottom. Despite nods to fresh dubstep, cosmic triphop and narcotic synthpop, echoes of Levantic radio hits constitutes the core of Hello Psychaleppo!
This raw material has deep roots in the Bedouin folksong, mawwal, which later led to the concept of “tarab”. More than being tied to a specific genre, tarab means the catharsis – emotional cleansing – that may arise as you surrender yourself to the beat. Clearly Zimo thinks, just like us, that dancing might be even better than the good ol’ peace pipe.
Text: Kim Klev