Passport is a dip into the unknown and the exotic; congealing elements from a mulitute of different musical landscapes into a novel-esque journey of discovery.
The album feels large and cinematic, which perhaps could be attributed to its lengthy three-year production schedule and the sheer vision in its production. Omar Rahbany is widely considered to be from a lineage of Lebanese musical royalty. His grandfather, Mansour, and great-uncle, Assi, known colloquially as the Rahbani Brothers, are an internationally acclaimed duo, who seem to have creative tendrils reaching everywhere.
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Omar Rahbany’s composition in passport is airy and rich. Opening track ‘Overture’ gives the impression of a Casablanca esque fimic drama, which incorporates multiple elements of classical western orchestration to open up the album. Later however, ‘Passport’ slides around freely; ‘Zook The Powerstation’ rehashes the flute flurries introduced in ‘Overture’, but also adds in some elements of Rahbany’s native Lebanon through its chord structure.
The album’s focus is on the osmosis of cultural elements, which is brought out through the metaphor of this genre defying album. In fact ‘Passport’ could be seen as a fresh and modern love letter to the city of Beruit, a place that has been awash with different cultural influences for its long existence. Just as the city is touched by many cultures, so the album seems multiple influences:
“The melting pot of cultures I grew up in, the double-edged sword that shaped me as a person, the confusion, the creativity, the struggle itself is my identity. I am a citizen of planet Earth and my nationality is that of a human being. This is my PASSPORT. And I’m certain that this view is shared by everyone that contributed to the making of the album.”
‘Programmusik Babel’ continues the “melting pot” sound of the album, but concentrates it’s focus on free-form jazz-eqsue trumpet and piano playing.
‘Passport’ is an intriguing record. It carries itself well, despite pulling in vastly different elements continuously, and it occupies a unique space all of its own. It’s just that little bit different, but ‘Passport’ dreams big and is an absolute a joy to listen to.
‘Passport’ is out on 1oth March.