From Here

12/04/2022Palestinian-American Violinist Akram Abdulfattah Releases Electro-Acoustic Folk-Fusion EP On Levantine Music

Born in New Jersey in 1990, Palestinian-American violinist, composer and producer Akram Abdulfattah moved back to his parents' rural hometown Kaukab Abu al-Hija in Northern Galilee in 1995. Having relocated at an early age and having to adapt to a new, yet fascinating environment with a rich cultural heritage, will surely have made a lasting impression on the young boy. But it also resulted in a newfound sense of belonging and the discovery of local musical traditions. 

Akram was quickly introduced to the darbuka drum by one of his uncles and later the oud by his father and began joining in at family gatherings, becoming increasingly familiar with the Arabic and Palestinian repertoire. But it was the sound of the violin that spoke to him, once he enrolled at the local conservatory. He would excel in performance and composition, winning several prizes and gathering acclaim along the way and, at age 19, formed the young Palestinian quartet Awan.

After graduating with excellence from the Jerusalem Music Academy in 2012, Akram continued to gain valuable experience, collaborating and touring with respected musicians, singers and pop artists from Palestine and the Arab world, participating in international festivals and recording his first album. In 2016, he set out to forge his own path, intent "on achieving his goal of transforming music to a universal language of love, peace and justice," but also well aware of "the challenges inherent in an underdeveloped Palestinian instrumental music [scene]." 

That same year, Akram released his first fusion album "Jawa", collaborating with Swedish and Palestinian musicians to blend pop and jazz with modern and classical Arabic music, before eventually embarking on a journey to the Far East, expanding his musical network and soaking up new influences to form the Monologue Music Ensemble with musicians from India, Sweden and the USA in 2018 and the Indo-Arab instrumental Sirat Trio in 2019.

Most recently, he released his contemporary electro-acoustic folk-fusion project "From Here". Although he had already released a single by the same name in 2020, it does not seem to be related to his current EP, though possibly in spirit. The six original compositions on "From Here" take a fluid, cross-genre approach, combining Palestinian folklore with electronically enhanced elements from Turkish music, rock and jazz, as Akram weaves evocative instrumental storylines with a certain experimental nonchalance.

"Akram views abstract music as means to communicate to the world a powerful message of peace, love, serenity, and harmony; invigorating an imaginative state of mind among his listeners, elevating their senses to higher spirituality and connecting them with their most inner selves," the release notes describe. Playing alongside a supporting cast of musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds, "From Here" reflects Akram's own expansive mindset and ability to feel at home in a multitude of styles.

You can buy the full EP on Bandcamp or stream it via the player below, where you will also find the official companion video to the re-imagined 'dabkeh' track "Ardi", which features the traditional 'yarghul' reed instrument.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom