Lebanon’s affair with dance music is a long and nuanced one. Hailed as the Middle East’s clubbing Mecca for decades, people now visit the tiny Levantine country for the night life as much they do for the cedar trees, the tabbouleh or any other local staple. This rise of the “party now, worry later” culture has led to the country’s artists and club-goers becoming connoisseurs on a regional scale alike.
With an abundance of clubs, DJs and labels, the Lebanese scene has developed into its own ecosystem. It is a self propelled entity thriving on local resources, managing to continuously grow from the creativity it spawns. One of the DJs to gain the crowd’s unanimous approval over the past several years is Eli Atala or ELI, wooing clubbers from around the country with his ability to play anything from techno to trip hop and jazz.
Eli’s first ever release comes in the form of Café Crème, A three-track EP, cleverly showcasing an edgy deep house flavor with a hint of the microhouse sound that’s in global demand. These highly infectious tracks come through on fellow Lebanese DJ/producer Nesta’s imprint - Fantôme de Nuit- along with a remix from another scene colleague: Roland Bachour aka Rolbac. The first track on the EP is "TL1977"; the choice of name is probably a homage to the iconic 70’s Renault. It starts out with the distorted voice of a recognized TV Astrologist introducing a guest over a mellow loop. As the mystery host’s voice itself start looping, crisp drums and top notes surface and start laying down the ground work for the hypnotic bass line that will beam the listeners into another dimension.Secondly comes the title track - "Café Crème." As you might have figured out by now Atala’s music is far from eligible for your corner café’s playlist, unless you want your patrons dancing on the tables. This is exactly what "Café Crème" aims to do; perfect for long nights out in intimate venues with music aficionados. It carries over from the previous track in many aspects but clearly delivers with more intensity, thus being more of peak-time tool.The final track on the EP is Rolbac’s rendition of the first production, transforming "TL1977" using the same signature sound that landed him on labels like Einmusika and Kindisch. Roland’s rework definitely takes away from the track’s playful spirit, wardrobe swapping it out of the oversized vintage shirt and shades into skinny ripped jeans and all black from head to toe. This iteration takes the track to a completely different demographic, but one that still likes their house and techno pumping above all else.