Rim Banna - The Mirrors of my Soul
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Rim Banna
The Mirrors of my Soul
Kirkelig Kulturverksted (www.kkv.no)

cd cover Rim Banna has been featured before in RootsWorld, with her collaborations in Krybberom and "Lullabies from the Axis of Evil" This is her most recent solo album, but its themes will be familiar: Palestine, first and foremost, and then humanity as a whole.

Palestine, her native land, fills every single 0 and 1 of this CD. There are songs dedicated to "martyrs" (her word) and to prisoners, and songs about the pioneering spirits of the Palestinian intelligentsia (such as the poet Tawfik Zayyad) and the traditions of the Palestinian people.

It's also a family affair: her mother, Zuhaira Sabbagh, wrote the poems that are used as the lyrics, and Banna and her husband Leonid Alexeienko wrote the music or adapted the traditional tunes. Alexeienko has spent a good deal of his life in rock bands and it shows in the careful sound and production. These are songs that are very much of this age, very well-produced and very much in place in a record sung entirely in Arabic. The record has a feeling of contemporaneousness, of tension, of inner peace and the serenity of time. Pay attention to the music and discard the lyrics and this record performs as the perfect chill-out album. The music is wonderful, Rim Banna's voice is exceptional and the compositions, although not always the most original, are well-crafted enough to hold interest; a perfect musical background, thus ensuring its longevity.

Focus on the lyrics and reach for the trilingual booklet (in Arabic, English and French) and the record attains a very different spirit. It becomes menacing, claustrophobic, challenging and full of tension. The stories behind the lyrics are brutal and offer no way out, just as might imagine it would feel to be living in Nazareth in the middle of the second Intifada, yet lyrics are beautiful, intricate, full of scents and visions and feelings and very much centered around the land of Palestine.

If you are interested in modern ambient music with great vocals, this record is definitely for you. It will lull you during difficult times and accompany you in the still of night. Then, when you feel bold enough, you can delve into the lyrics and ponder a world of conflicts, impossible situations and lack of communication.

If you are interested in more traditional forms of expression, or if you really cannot stand to carry the weight of the world, look elsewhere. This project is not for the faint of heart. - Nondas Kitsos

Artist's web site: www.rimbanna.com

CD available from cdRoots

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