- label:Piranha Records
The historical definition of the Orient is as counterpart to the Occident from the position of the Roman Empire – it’s everything east of the Apennine peninsula. Make that everything including (somewhat incongruously) the Maghreb and you get: Arabia, the Levant, North Africa and the Far East including Southern Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia.
If you want to travel this distance through the medium of Piranha releases, starting from Piranha Records’ home base in Berlin it is a trip in roughly six steps, starting in France with Carte de Sejour’s Franco-Algerian raï rock.
An extensive stopover is required for the next step-over, Egypt and Nubia. The music of Nubia especially, past and present, with the late, great Ali Hassan Kuban and his Berlin-based compatriot Mahmoud Fadl, has always been a Piranha Records specialty. Jalilah’s Raks Sharki series of Egyptian music rounds up the Piranha portfolio of releases from the region.
Onwards to the Levant – the region that has been in modern times most noted for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Originally hailing from Morocco, with a repertoire that spans his ancestors’ Spanish roots, the North African secular music of his youth and Jewish liturgical song, Ashkelon cantor Emil Zrihan is one to build bridges rather between the opposing camps – as would always be Piranha Records’ policy.
The next stop on your route would be Pakistan and the qawwali mastery of the Sabri Brothers – and off to Step 6 and Indonesian qasida with all girl group Nasida Ria, home of the Moluccan Moods Orchestra from Amsterdam and Sabah Habas Mustapha’s enchanting Bali pop Denpasar Moon including Indonesian smash hit of the same name.
The creator of that irresistibly saccharine one-off in Piranha Records’ catalogue brings us back to the starting point of our short but expansive voyage: Colin Bass a.k.a. Sabah Habas Mustapha – European by birth, a global usic originator by heart – lived in Berlin for a long time.
He fostered his beloved Indonesian music there – as once did the Moluccan Moods Orchestra in the Netherlands: the Occident’s continuing fascination with the Orient still makes for some highly fertile soil of oriental arts.
Click here for the Spotify playlist