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Sublime Frequencies

V/A - Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Sounds from Iraq Vol. 2

In 2005, Sublime Frequencies released Choubi Choubi: Folk and Pop Sounds from Iraq, and in the ensuing years it has become one of the most beloved and venerable titles in their catalog. Now almost 10 years later, this highly-anticipated second volume is finally here. Compiler and producer Mark Gergis has once again put forth a revelatory and poignant collection of Iraqs national folk music. What has happened to Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion and eventual occupation? Endless death, destruction and chaos, the complete take-down of a functional and sovereign secular government (regardless of your opinion on that government), puppet installations, contrived sectarian divisions, the wholesale looting of culture, rampant opportunism, and apparently no lessons learned -- all at the Iraqi peoples expense. Naturally, music has continued to be produced in Iraq -- however, since 2003, musicians and artists have been consistently targeted and attacked by extremists, who have also bombed music shops and forced the closing of venues and music halls. The musical style most prominently focused on in this volume is the infamous Iraqi choubi, (pronounced choe-bee), with its distinct driving rhythm that feature fiddles, double-reed instruments, bass, keyboards, and oud over its signature beat. Choubi is Iraqs version of the regionally popular dabke, another celebratory Levantine folkloric style of rhythm and line dance. What really defines the Iraqi choubi sound are the crisp, rapid-fire machine-gun style percussive rhythms set atop the main beat. To the uninitiated, they sound almost electronic. Sometimes they are, but more often this is the work of the khishba -- a unique hand-drum of nomadic origin (aka the zanbour -- Arabic for wasp), which appears across the board in many styles of Iraqi music today, with extensions of it also heard in Syrian and Kuwaiti music. Among other styles featured in this volume are Iraqs legendary brand of mawal -- an ornamental vocal improvisation that sets the tone of a song, regardless of the style, and the outstanding Iraqi hecha, with its lumbering and determined rhythm pulsing beneath sad, antagonized vocals -- as heard on tracks A4 and B2. The tracks on this collection were produced during the Saddam era -- between the 1980s and early-2000s. An important goal within the Iraqi Baathist agenda was to promote its brand of secularism, which saw the establishment of cultural centers, and a fostering of the arts. Music was more encouraged, albeit more institutionalized than ever -- particularly folkloric and heritage music such as choubi. In an Iraqi army comprised of seven divisions, Saddam referred to singers as the eighth. Still, unless a rare level of stardom has been achieved, being a singer or musician isnt usually encouraged or viewed as a respectable lifestyle in much of the Arab world. Its often those deemed social outsiders that tend to find their niche in music -- particularly the party music" heard on this collection. Among them are the Rom Gypsy Iraqis (known as Kawliya in Arabic). A number of female singers wear masks and adopt pseudonyms to protect their identities, as some are runaways or prostitutes making ends meet in the seedy nightclub scene. Occasionally, they end up with successful recording careers. Sajida Obeid, who has appeared on both volumes of Choubi Choubi! is an example of a talented Kawliya singer from the nightclub scene of the 1980s who rose to choubi infamy in Baghdad. Choubi inevitably invokes tawdry connotations within Iraqi society (cheap nightclubs for the lower classes, outcast gypsies and singing prostitutes), but in fact, many calibers of Iraqi singers and ensembles have recorded and performed the music. Unofficially, choubi can be called the national dance of Iraq. Though some may deny this claim (mostly due to its reputation and stigma), at most Iraqi weddings youll find people from all walks flaunting their best choubi moves. Iraqi music has always had a way of transcending religious groups and ethnicity, collectively shared between Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and myriad other Iraqi minorities. In 2013 sadly, this diversity and unity within Iraq is increasingly fragmented, but traditions continue throughout the internationally displaced diaspora. Limited edition 2LP set in a heavy gatefold jacket with beautiful artwork and liner notes by Mark Gergis." - Sublime Frequencies.

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After nearly a decade of false starts, multiple game plans veering off the rails, and a handful of shattered hopes and/or dreams, the odyssey is finally complete—the new Fusetron site is here.

This is the first phase of a multipart rollout that will span the next few months: the currently browsable stock includes miscellaneous new releases from the past 8+ months (we have a lot of catching up to do), plus approximately a third of our backstock. Note that we’ve reduced/slashed prices on many titles and will continue to do so in order to make room for new stock. We’ll also be expanding / tweaking / improving / debugging the site itself (for example, we still have work to do on the automated international postage system, not to mention the inevitable inventory discrepancies that come with transferring an ancient and massive database to a new system).

Over the next few months, as we take inventory, clean house, and delve into our storage, we will be uploading thousands of additional items, gradually, on a near-daily basis. This will include the majority of the LPs, as well as many titles, in all formats, once thought long-gone. Many currently “sold out” items are likely to resurface.

Finally, once our general backstock is up (probably in the next two or three months) we’ll begin making our extensive stockpile of rarities available online for the first time: tons of random out-of-print titles, "deadstock," warehouse finds, secondhand collectibles, etc., accumulated over the past few decades.

Frequent/returning customers will be getting early access to these items. Details to follow on how this will work (a priority mailing list? a 'frequent flyer'-like program?), but it will not be based on dollars spent. We want to reward those who consistently support us, especially in the discogs marketplace era (to those who show up trying to poach five copies of a one-off rarity, and nothing else, ever… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).

So—we suggest you take some time to dig through the site—even we’ve been surprised by what’s been turning up, and there’s much more to come.
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