Monday, November 7, 2011
Cedars of Lebanon - "Archive II" (2011) [Land of Decay]
Cedars of Lebanon's Archive II is absolutely immense, but not in the way that Minsk was. A mournful excursion into the sounds of bazaars, Sufi burial rites, and the desert at night, Cedars of Lebanon's gorgeous, meditative ambiance is unlike anything else you've heard this year. If Miles Davis's Kind of Blue is the soundtrack to Chicago at night, then Archive II takes the listener through the darkened streets of Beirut just before the sunrise. All the clubs have closed and the streets are virtually empty, leaving a sort of transcendental, spiritual atmosphere, unveiling the hidden faces of this ancient city. Extraordinarily picturesque visions of the very cedar groves of lore in which the great Gilgamesh once tread envelop the listener, taking them back to the time of the Phoenecians. Elements of stark, Burial-esque electronica emerge from time to time, snapping back to present day, but overall Archive II is centered around the extensive use of hand percussion, traditional string instruments, and a lone, grief-stricken female voice.
The beautiful ambiance of Cedars of Lebanon's Archive II, while rooted in the traditional sounds of the Middle East, show a mature synthesis of ancient and modern, highlighting the region's difficulty in maintaining its identity as the "cradle of civilization" while keeping up with the modern world. Archive II has proven itself to be one of the most engrossing, beautiful, unique releases of 2011 and will make wonderful reading music for years to come. Stream one of the six songs here and be sure to order a copy (there are only 125!) from Land of Decay.