In the opening moments of “Watch on the Orient,” the first track of Mephisto Halabi’s incredible The Arabic Room, it feels like traveling through time and space through the radio dial. Traditional music trips into a woman’s voice speaking Arabic before giving away to acid-soaked riffage. As soon as the sharp, distorted tones hit, the world blurs into a bounty of warm colors and gritty rhythms.
Mephisto Halabi is the name used by multi-instrumentalist Julius Masri on The Arabic Room and this ambitious document lands with explosive force. Masri has performed with members of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Irreversible Entanglements, and more while studying with Carl Mottola and Elaine Hoffman-Watt, among others. His pedigree is unquestionable and his talent colossal. It all comes together on The Arabic Room.
“Watch on the Orient” builds methodically, driven by Halabi’s incredible drumming. The layers are thick with smoke, the fire underneath growing with power as the angular riffs grind across the surface leaving scarred black marks in their wake as voices drifting in and out across the riff. Flowing with powerful frenetic energy it’s as though the track wants to lift off.
The Arabic Room is amazing and forceful and it has quickly become one of my favorite albums of the year. Halabi has constructed a monument to growing up in Tripoli, to the It’s out on November 26. Pre-order below.
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