Omar Rahbany is a multi-talented, multi-visionary musician, who is flying high in the slipstream of his new album ‘Passport’. The latest release from the Lebanese-born musician, as the name suggests, is an odyssey in both sound design and music; with sonic influences hailing from all over the globe. To celebrate this release, Rahbany invited a few lucky individuals to experience a live, stripped-down version of his technical wizardry at The Royal Court Theatre in, London.
The venue was awash with lavish red lighting, giving the whole occasion an air of glitz and glamour. The setting’s atmosphere leant itself perfectly to the glossy production of both Rahbany’s album, and the twenty-minute mini-documentary that would introduce it. The event felt like a cocktail-party/concert cohesion, with dressed up guests and a large, grand piano making its statement in the centre of the room.
The luxurious speakeasy setting also complimented Rahbany’s entrance perfectly. He presented a character who, despite his massive technical and artistic capabilities, remains extraordinarily down to earth. The documentary that followed his short, polite introduction took the audience on a whistle-stop tour of his artistic process underlining each stage of ‘Passport’s’ production. It is unusual to see an album which focuses on sound design as one as its key production elements; but in this case, Rahbany seemed keen to include non-musical sounds as an integral part of ‘Passport’s’ rich sonic tapestry.
After a brief overview of the instrumentation, mixing and other production elements of the album, the documentary concluded with a look at the beautiful sacred geometry patterns that are wrapped around the album as cover-art. All elements of the record, and its packaging, are as neat and crisp as the accompanying documentary was succinct and to the point.
‘Passport’, as a sonic experience is extremely complex, and has the talented fingerprints of a huge number of musicians all over it. It was a great shame, therefore, that Rahbany’s band for the evening could not enter the country due to visa issues, and he was left to give the audience a quick, solo rendition of the record. It was truly a delight to see such a professional do his work so up close, and the movement of his fingers on the ebony and ivory keys was mesmerising to witness. After a few brief tracks, Rahbany stood tall, absorbing raucous applause from a receptive crowd.
“Now…can somebody get me a drink?” he laughed, as he edged his way towards the bar.
‘Passport’s’ launch party was truly a unique introduction to a unique act. The care and attention that is put into Rahbany’s artistic projects is both rare, and should be experienced first-hand.