Artist Spotlight

Review: Cedar + Soil, “Dirge”

No Comments 8 December 2013

Review: Cedar + Soil, “Dirge”

“With the release of Dirge, George Abi-Hanna is striving to bridge the gap between cultural influences, but he’s also finding that valuable middle ground that opens ears to a wider range of sounds, styles and beats.”

Artist: Cedar & Soil

Album: Dirge

Genre: Electro Rock

RIYL: Sigur Rós, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Cedar and Soil Dirge

When this album landed in my inbox, I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the phrase, “Cedar, music with roots.” Cedar & Soil is George Abi-Hanna, a Lebanese indie rock musician and producer based in Brooklyn. As with many of the artists we feature here, there is a backstory. And George’s is deeply rooted in mixing Mediterranean, Arab and other foreign cultures into his personal musical mission. It’s a refreshing and interesting blend of traditional and modern, presented as electronic rock.

With the songs on Dirge, I found myself transported through a sort of cultural journey through earbuds. “Here Comes the Sound” is arguably the most accessible song of the bunch, and also happens to kick off the album. When I express to other artists that it’s vital to choose the first track wisely, this is a great example of using that moment to hook and reel. Not that the other songs aren’t catchy and oddly endearing, but the importance of establishing a baseline can mean pressing stop or play. “Jitterbug” follows the opener and sounds as you might imagine, a slightly jittery and entrancing tune that easily inspired me to move.

“The Dreaded R Train,” like “Jibni” that appears later in the album, utilizes both Arabic and English lyrics that delve deeper into Abi-Hanna’s traditional roots and makes for a fascinating and at times, eery, blend of foreign and familiar. “The Beatdown” is another standout, a tune that crosses musical genres with a comfortable and easy vibe. Despite the title, it sounds effortless, full of optimism and I’m particularly drawn to the clapping effects and vocal restraint. “Sirens” is a song that I feel has potential for wider appeal, a great underlying groove that “By The Sea” is another strong contender that showcases Abi-Hanna’s minimalist vocal and lyrical style that builds slowly and steadily in an oddly comforting and relaxed way.

What strikes me as I continue to listen to Dirge are the subtleties that continue to surprise me; an errant chord, a near-buried horn or rhythmic element, the way the guitar strums expand until the last possible second…all these things that develop more clearly after repeated listens. That’s what makes this album from Cedar & Soil a piece of work that delivers in stages; which may not seem immediately accessible to everyone but have much more to say than what the surface conveys. With the release of Dirge, George Abi-Hanna is striving to bridge the gap between cultural influences, but he’s also finding that valuable middle ground that opens ears to a wider range of sounds, styles and beats. This is definitely an album worthy of attention; and Cedar & Soil is an artist to watch.


Cedar & Soil website: http://www.cedarrecords.com/cedarsoil

 

  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit

Your Comments

No Comments


Share your view

Post a comment

Submit the word you see below:



Notify me of follow-up comments?