Two Or The Dragon are an electro-acoustic duo from Lebanon. Using percussion and buzuq (which I now know is a long-necked lute from the oud-saz-bouzouki family!) with plenty of effects and processing, Abed Kobeissy and Ali Hout deconstruct their musical heritage and influences, mixing in industrial sounds and dance rhythms. With Beirut as their backdrop, inspiration and target, the result is intensely urban, subject to rapid and unexpected change, occasionally mechanical, emotionally raw, and evokes spirits of both destruction and construction.
It starts with a series of portentous clangs (“clang” is an entirely inadequate word here – my guess as to the source is something like the buzuq, amplified and processed) forming a strident, grand introduction that is abruptly cut off by a single drum-blow then silence. Another. And another. And on… it sounds like bombs are dropping. The cadence continues, more rapid, striving, merging with and at times drowned by percussive artillery. (I should maybe apologise for overlaying a violent metaphor here, however, to me it seems exactly what Hout and Kobeissy are aiming for – I stand ready to be corrected!)
Anyway, all this is just the beginning…
Over 17 minutes, the intensity is relentless but the variety of textures, timbres, rhythms and interplay never stops evolving, or gripping. But it’s not all aural pummelling. Dance Grooves For The Weary is punctuated by deep moments of brief stillness and near-emptiness, highlighted by low-volume microsounds, like dust settling. Tiny instances of aftermath and truncated peace. But every pause, every silence is inevitably broken; often harshly… except for the last, of course, but even after the final dramatic silence, you’re waiting for more…
Inspired by a piece written by Kobeissy in autumn 2020, after, “the most violent summer in Lebanon’s history,” this is no gentle dronescape. Dance Grooves… is full of suddenness, an unpredictable cycling of moments that surprise and even shock; sonic events from a clear blue sky. This is brutally stirring, visceral, overwhelmingly emotional and whether you call it ‘dance music’ or not, your body will want to move.
Dance Grooves For The Weary [Parts I & II]
Ali Hout: floor-tom, kick drum, Iranian daf, paper clips
Abed Kobeissy: buzuq, effects, drum machine
Dance Grooves For The Weary is available to download from Ruptured Records’ Bandcamp page.