Howl! Arts Collective – St. Laurent Piano Project
Melancholic and hopeful, this 12” record remains focused despite its open format, stemming from years of attentively playing together. Both piano and oud are melodic instruments with strong percussive qualities, and both hold esteemed positions in their respective classical musical traditions. On Rodina, Christoff and Shalabi aren’t exactly subverting these traditions so much as diverging from them, improvising around the guiding concept of an imagined homeland, an endless question that plagues most of us living in the colonial nations of North America.
Shalabi’s Land of Kush had a big year with The Big Mango, his multi-ethnic Montreal ensemble and their first since Shalabi left the city for Cairo a couple years ago. Listeners may also remember Shalabi from the Shalabi Effect. Rodina is much more intimate, no psychedelia or studio manipulation, just a gentle rumination between oud and piano.
Listen to the opening piece from родина (rodina), a second release from the St. Laurent Piano Project, recorded on a winter morning at Sala Rossa concert hall in Montréal. Released on 12″ vinyl by the Howl! arts collective, this record is an exploration of duets between Sam Shalabi on oud and Stefan Christoff on piano.
Music on this recording is inspired by the endless search for home in North America, a place of lands and people continuing to struggle against the legacy and current reality of colonialism. родина (rodina) is about reflecting on ancestors, dreams of another place and a future of liberation.
Read an interview with Sam and Stefan discussing the background of this recording here. (Joseph Sannicandro)