RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Rim Banna
Revelation of Ecstasy & Rebellion
Kirkelig Kulturverksted (

"The Taste of Love"

Sometimes hailed as “the voice of Palestine,” Rim Banna is also a messenger of revolution. Riding the waves of the Arab Spring, Banna sets ancient and modern poems to music that is equally timeless. Through the intensity of her interpretive gifts, she magnifies and recasts the politics of every verse. The key to appreciating them is in the album's tripartite title. “Revelation” connotes the ability to taste something new in the old. “Ecstasy” implies subordination to hidden messages, holding true to peace in a world close to bursting with repression. Finally, “rebellion” signals a refusal to stand down, taking the power of privacy and making it public for all to share. The album's broad landscape thus lends veracity to Banna's all-inclusive message.

In the spirit of that inclusivity, Revelation of Ecstasy & Rebellion is produced and arranged by Bugge Wesseltoft, who further handles all keyboards and programming and draws from his background in jazz to shape a subtle atmosphere. Joining him is a roster of musicians with roots reaching into India, Tunisia, Palestine, and Norway. These include Ossama Bishara (qanun), Ramsis Kassis (oud), Kays Zarrouk (cello), Jihed Kmiri (percussion), Mohamed Ben Salha (flutes), Eivind Aarset (guitars), and Shirkant Shriram (bass). Despite the sizable supporting cast, Banna's voice stays front and center, the pulley by which this entire mechanism moves. Her chosen poets are equally diverse, each occupying an essential dot along the path she traces through centuries of protest.

Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926-1964) is referenced three times on the album. With subjects ranging from a prayer for sustenance (“The Hymn of the Rain”) to the cosmic epiphanies of everyday life (“Stranger in the Gulf”), al-Sayyab's artistry is a revolution unto itself, singlehandedly reinvigorating as it did the landscape of Arabic poetry. Most fascinating, however, is an arrangement of “Don't Increase His Agony,” which features Tunisian rapper Mr. Kaz, who in combination with Aarset's jazzy riffs makes for a triumphant formula.

"Don't Increase His Agony,"

At the other end of the spectrum is Egyptian poet Ibn al-Farid (1181-1235), also thrice invoked. Ever in service of the word, Banna cradles his every sentiment, as when she sings, “Love is life, then die for its sake with fondness / It is your right to die and be excused.” In such moments of lyric vulnerability, her inner strength is indefatigable. These are songs of love, yes, but often in its more painful, destructive incarnations. In light of this, “The Taste of Love” shines as the album's zenith. It bears dedication to Banna's own beloved, carrying passions from time past like relics on the cushion of the here and now.

"The Free Man"

Between the towering figures of al-Sayyab and al-Farid unspools a journey of thick description that takes us even further to Persia (“Astonished by You and Me”) and Andalusia (“The Sun of Love”). Along the way, Banna gives pause to the Palestinian resistance (“The Absent One”) and to Tunisian freedom fighter Amara Omrani (“The Free Man”) in powerful channeling of rage, bloodshed, and tears. With flutes circling and rhythms pulsing, she captures every nuance with due attention. In her voice resides a homeland unto itself, a challenge to silence that leaves a resounding message in its wake: In order for love to conquer all, you must first open yourself to having loved. - Tyran Grillo

A live performance of "Astonished By You and Me"

Find the artist online:

Looking for More Information?


return to rootsworld

© 2014 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.


cd cover

Share on Facebook


RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and get our weekly e-newsletter.