Words by Nick Mee. @Nickjmee
You don’t need to speak Arabic nor entertain any notions of a deity to be struck by the intensity of Bachar Mar-Khalifé’s hymn for religious conciliation, a fiery creation in which the Paris-based Lebanese musician surveys the toxic work of faith-based intolerance and cries to his own god: “Allow me one last request: spare us and leave us alone”.
The whispered chants, plaintive harmonies and lingering piano crescendo of the opening segment are compelling enough, but it is the stampeding bass notes and forceful chorale of the mid-section that packs the punch: piano hammers strike the strings like desperate blows on a bolted door as the singer directs his anger towards an unreachable almighty. Burning out after a percussive cascade, ‘Kyrie Eleison’ reverts to its sombre reprise with an air of defeat, as if acknowledging that this plea for “a truce on all religious controversies” would be better directed at flesh-and-blood here on Earth. Given the heat of the delivery, one suspects this is not the sound of an atheist’s rejection, but the exasperation of a believer. In any case, the first taster of Bachar Mar-Khalifé’s forthcoming album ‘Ya Balad’ is a uniquely effective expression of turmoil.
Ya Balad is out on 16 October on InFiné