A new compilation album featuring the works of 20 Beirut-based musicians and artists presents an introspective record of the troubled capital’s rich musical landscape.
Commissioned by Beirut & Beyond, a platform committed to enhancing the condition of the Arab world’s independent music scene through showcases, exchanges, and festivals, Beirut 20/21 features an array of musical exhibitions demonstrating the plentitude of talent and musical visions lingering within the embattled city.
Under the watchful eye of famed British-Iraqi musician, Khyam Allami, the miniature catalogue of sounds delves into experimentalism, swings into funk, and presents its interpretation of jazz. Its diversity, versatility, and inherent eclecticism offers an insight into intensely personal lived experiences of its contributors, who, after singing amidst the ecstatic hope of revolution, found themselves sunk by the unrelenting devastation of pandemic and economic catastrophe.
With all the album’s songs recorded over the 2020-21 period, it also reflects an remarkable endurance of the ability of artists such as Liliane Chlela, Kid Fourteen, Jad Aatoui, Sandy Chamoun, and Aya Metwalli, to name a few, to continue enriching the sound of the local scene.
While the country’s leadership remains determined in its unwillingness to steer away from its decades-long path, or to steer at all, the album’s rich diversity and the harmony brought about by the natural clashes of its subgenres can itself be hailed as another showcase of the abundance of imagination possessed by the artists of Beirut.