Last Friday saw the digital release of Manbarani, the debut album from Iraq-born, Cairo-based lyricist, composer and oud player Natik Awayez. Slated for a Spring 2021 release in vinyl format through Sublime Frequencies, Manbarani is the fruit of a truly collaborative work. With the help of Maurice Louca, who produced and arranged the album, Awayez enlisted a cast of stellar musicians from the region, including Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and Maryam Saleh (Lekhfa), Aya Hemeda and Adham Zidan (The Invisible Hands), Khaled Yassine (Alif / Lekhfa / Anouar Brahem) and Ayman Asfour (Elephantine). He comments:
“Iraq is the source and Yemen the soul. As for Cairo, it has offered me snippets of time and a small abode. A handful of its most beautiful musicians and a lot of love. And so, Manbarani came to be.”
A devout work of two years, reflecting the overall themes of love, wars, longing and displacement, Manbarani had long been brewing in the mind of Awayez, “collecting nuance and fermenting with influences ushered by migration across cities and continents”. Awayez had already shared two spellbinding singles from the record, ‘Al Manafi’ and the title track, both offered with a video accompaniment. ‘Al Manafi”s video comes courtesy of Sara Abdallah and Hadeel Abdelkareem and the video for ‘Manbarani’ is by Mohamed Allam and Mena El Shazly.