Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Omar Souleyman: Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts [Hydra Head, 2011]
I don't know how I missed this guy, but though maybe his three earlier compilation-style albums on Sublime Frequencies render this one redundant, I doubt it--played blind, it grabbed me by the what-the? from the moment track two speeded things up and didn't quit till the end of track nine an hour and change later. A Syrian not to be confused with the Egyptian placeholder president of approximately the same name, Souleyman is a local wedding singer turned world-music attraction playing a supposedly dumbed-down, synthed-up, hickoid-metal variant of a major Levantine pop style called, how loosely or precisely I know not, dabke. Recorded in such exotic locales as Berlin, Melbourne, Philadelphia, and Kortrijk, Belgium, this delivers the kind of intensity Lester Bangs craved and almost got when he tore the shrink-wrap off the Count Five's Cartesian Jetstream. And don't nitpick--Lester couldn't understand the lyrics either. A-