"Right now I’m functioning at 120 percent," says busy producer and musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, based in Montreal (with his wife, baby, and another on the way), where he co-owns the Hotel2Tango recording studio, and has profound connections, both musical and personal, with his homeland of Lebanon. Moumneh is currently producing three different albums for three international artists, working on a public sound installation in Dubai, and rehearsing with iconic Indigenous artist Alanis Obomsawin with the band he assembled. And, Daqa'iq Tudaiq, the third album by Jerusalem In My Heart (Moumneh’s experimental Arabic music and analog film projection project with visual artist Charles-André Coderre), comes out October 5.

Moumneh, who left Lebanon during the civil war, describes Daqa'iq Tudaiq as very conceptual "certainly by my standards of how I understand art," he says, pointing to the contrast between side A and side B. Side A "is a rendition of a classic [Egyptian] popular song with the orchestra, and side B is drastic, drastic electronic, me pressing away on the computer, hacking away, making my... harsh music, I guess."

This piece was recorded in a dear friend’s very old Beirut palace with a 15-piece orchestra, each musician hand-picked by Moumneh. The musicians had never played altogether before. The "gigantic" marble room in which they recorded had an "obscene" amount of reverb. Yet working with these beautiful factors of chance in such a soulful, perfect setting ended up contributing to the feeling Moumneh was seeking. "We had to instruct everybody to be playing at a ridiculously quiet level… everything is just delicate, delicate, delicate..." says Moumneh. And the process was lightning fast. "I think the musicians were fascinated by the pace... When I said 'That’s it, we’re done, we have the take,' they were like, 'What are you talking about, don’t you want to perfect it?' I was like, 'I don’t need to perfect it. I got what I needed, that’s what matters. That one little feeling, we got it.'"

While JIMH’s aesthetic may be abstract, its subject matter is connected to politics, or perhaps, to feelings about politics. How do people respond to this subject matter within work so open to interpretation? "It often triggers people that they aren’t able to very clearly categorize what it is they’re seeing," Moumneh replies. "This music is very political and very personal, I make sure that I present this in a way that feels firmly personal. For me, it’s important to maintain the human unity, and that we are all in the same shit together that we’ve created."

On that note, he changed the original title of the song he adapted for the aforementioned orchestral track to Wa Ta'atalat Loughat Al Kalam, which means, he explains, the language of speech and communication has totally broken down. "It’s a love song. Take it out of that context, and plug it into another context, and suddenly it has a whole other meaning."

Which relates to how JIMH first began in 2005. "It’s very much about an experience a person lives when they come to see the show, the nature of the analog films and projections," he says about translating this concept into recorded music. "We wanted to create something that would represent or mimic an aspect of live performance, where the audience is making its own connections and nothing’s really synchronized, the chance meetings of visuals and audio when we’re doing our show; the controlled chaos."

By Simona Rabinovitch

Jerusalem In My Heart performs at the Phi Centre October 5 in a double bill with Jessica Moss.
Radwan Ghazi Moumneh is also participating in a film talk September 30, at Cinéma Moderne.

About Centre Phi
The Phi Centre is a versatile space with venues that adapt to accommodate the event at hand: launches, conferences, seminars, screenings, exhibitions, concerts, performances, interactive installations. It has creative studios and production suites equipped with the latest technology for all artistic needs. It’s a multifunctional centre where art can express itself in its various forms. It’s a space where people can exchange, learn, discover, launch, shoot, record, and more.

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