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Belly Dance Disco


Artist: Ihsan Al-Munzer
Label: BBE
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 31 January 2020

BBE brings us the first release in Ernesto Chahoud’s ‘Middle Eastern Heavens’ reissue series. Belly Dance Disco, by Lebanese maestro Ihsan Al-Munzer, was first issued in 1979...

Time to get out the disco ball, flared trousers, garish coloured clothing and throw all self respect out of the window as you turn up the volume and listen to the cheesy '70s sound of Belly Dance Disco. In the late '70s and early '80s Beirut, Lebanese organist, composer and arranger Ihsan Al-Munzer made a series of pioneering synth-driven fusion albums that reimagined Middle Eastern music. The records came at a pivotal time in Lebanon’s musical history of avant garde experimentation that was blossoming, just as the country’s 15-year civil war took hold.

Belly Dance Disco was Al-Munzer’s first release as a solo artist, and aimed to fuse ‘Western’ modern music and bellydance to make it more accessible to the local audience in the late 1970s.

Talking about the music, Al-Munzer said: "I wanted to put a mixture of European beat with Arabic percussion, but I made the European rhythm and harmony very easy to listen to for the Arabic ear – soft and understandable”. More recently, the composer’s music has made the return journey back to the West; with tracks on the album featured by hip hop artists such as Mos Def, who sampled Al-Munzer’s composition ‘Joy of Lina’ on his 2009 song ‘The Embassy’.

It's very much a product of its time (in the same way that cheesy Indian restaurant music was in the '70s and '80s) and this is one release you'll totally love or completely be repelled by. But there's no argument that this is an important album and one that will be welcomed by disco aficionados.


Nick Smithson

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