Avant-Pop / Electronic / Experimental / Contemporary / Middle Eastern

BORN TO LEAVE (REVISITED) at Centre Phi: Sophoclean electronic tragedy with a Lebanese flavour

by Salima Bouaraour

Lebanon, a land at the crossroads of Phoenicians, Arabs and its ethno-religious diversity, which manifests itself in history like a lyrical and dramatic epic. Tinged with richness and beauty, this country has also experienced untold tragedy for several decades, including civil war, economic crisis and regional instability. Today, the Lebanese diaspora is estimated at around 12 million worldwide.

Wake Island explore cette question dans un triptyque comprenant une performance immersive en direct, une expérience d’écoute audio spatiale et un jeu vidéo de rôle. 

In fact, Philippe Manasseh and Nadim Maghzal have teamed up with a team of media designers to re-invent a new formula for their album Born to Leave, released in 2021, into a 3D game, centered on the themes of immigration and Arab identity as well as with the artist, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, to revisit the sound design. 

The spatial mix is available to listen to in the Sound Habitat and comes in 9 parts. 

1. Habitat sonore. May 1 to May 7. Spatial mixing of the album.

Plunged into the half-light of an immersive room, equipped with a multi-channel installation and a sound of unsettling perfection, the listening conditions are more than optimal. The music transcends you from every angle, with a subtle blend of a scenario worthy of a cinematic atmosphere such as Dune and an electronic ambience typical of immersive performances. More than ever, you feel the synthesis of two entities: Wake Island’s narrative and Radwan’s sonic mise en abîme: bouzouk, synth, electric guitar, effect pedal, whirring, echoing, spiraling or resonating sound, distant voices, the sensation of wind blowing across sand, shaking walls and detonation, deep bass. An absolute must!

2. Role-playing video game with the soundtrack from the album presented on May 3. 

In alcoves fitted with cushions, several Ipads are laid out to access the video game. This is a role-playing game in which you, the player, are immersed in a Beirut-Montreal flight about to land at Pierre-Elliott Trudeau International Airport. You meet characters such as Maha, Bahia and the Canadian immigration officers, as well as the two enigmatic characters from Wake Island. As well as being a treasure hunt, you’ll be asked a number of questions, each of which you’ll have to answer takes you on a journey of intrigue. The setting is composed of 3D visuals. Scenes are akin to psychedelic hallucinations, set against a backdrop of the album soundtrack and Lebanon’s political and economic crisis. Let yourself be caught up in the game!

3. May 3. Immersive live performance with Wake Island and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh + video installation by Giotto remixing the game’s 3D visuals 

Sublime. Meditative. Bewitching: a live performance worthy of a modern-day Greek tragedy. In the listening room, the artists formed a triptych where the stage consisted of synths, ouds, electric guitar, zither, keyboards, ableton controllers and effects pedals. The installation and design resembled an ancient Greek tragedy featuring illustrious characters torn apart by passions or overwhelmed by fate. The soundtrack illustrated the tracks from the revisited album, but was distinct from the immersive listening experience. The intention was to make this a clearly unique experience, and it was a success! The acts – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action-dénouement – lasted around 60 minutes.

Nadim, Philippe and Radwan, the three protagonists, captivated the audience in a grandiose performance on a circular open stage, encircled by the audience. The “musician-actors” shared all the roles. The catharsis lay in the common thread instilled by an extremely vaporous, continuously repeating strand. One song followed another to highlight the “Lebanese” tragedy played out before our eyes and ears, imbued with an immense poetic intensity. The sound design was predominantly ambient and soaring, but the haunting rhythm was broken up by Philippe’s voice with parsimony and finesse. A touch of vocoder and orientalizing vocalization. Nadim created the rhythmic jerks and Radwan enveloped the audience in bewitching layers. Visual artist Giotto projected images from the video game in the background. A pure Sophoclean electronic tragedy with a Lebanese flavour.

VIDEO GAME FREE ACCESS HERE !

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