Taraf Syriana are an interesting collection of musicians. They are all conservatory trained but in different genres from western classical to Syrian classical to Romani (and probably more) and they play a variety of instruments from different traditions. They combine all this to create a kind of fusion folk/rock inspired by the music(s) of the lands from the Balkans through Syria to Kurdistan. They use quite a bit of amplification and the overall effect is like a sort of eastern Mediterranean Fairport Convention although there’s more composed music and less traditional stuff in the Taraf Syriana rep.
I got a chance to see them live last night at their CD launch at Lula Lounge. It wasn’t quite the same line up as on the CD and I don’t have a detailed set list from last night so I’ll just give overall impressions here and do a more detailed piece on the CD when I’ve had a chance to listen properly in a less frazzled venue than Lula Lounge!
What I was most struck by last night, apart from the variety and energy on display, were the instruments. Two of the core members; Sergiu Popa and Omar Abour Afach, play conventional enough instruments; piano accordion and viola respectively (and play them very well!). The other two are a bit more unusual. Naeem Suanwar plays the ancient zither like instrument, the qanun, which not only sounds very interesting but is rather beautiful to look at. In fact he’s a leading academic authority on this instrument. The amazing Noémy Braun plays a six stringed cello which has a really interesting and unusual range of capabilities which she takes full advantage of. One of the guests last night, Romani musician Dan Armeanca, besides some pretty cool vocals, plays a very unusual guitar. It looks semi-acoustic. There seems to be some sort of sound box but t’s shallow and doesn’t have the usual cut out below the strings. So, unusual instruments singly and in combination!
Dan aside, I think it was a different guest line up last night (including a clarinettist who doesn’t appear on the CD) and I’m not sure how exactly the set mapped to the CD but it was a good advert for the band and an enjoyable evening.
The phots are publicity photos courtesy of Antonia Gueorguiva.