postcards
A screengrab from the music video "Fossilized", by Lebanon-based band Postcards. Image Credit: YouTube/Screenshot

Rap, dream-pop, post-punk… music that would be familiar in any club scene around the world, except – it’s in Arabic!

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can discover independent music from the Middle East.

The Arab world is full of talented indie musicians, who have been breaking ground with new sounds, and fusing East with West.

Selwa Abd, for instance, is a New York techno music producer who released an album last year called Middle Ouest, where she combined the synthesizer with percussive traditions of her native Morocco. She also spent the challenging year of 2020 composing dance music, even though clubs were empty and quiet.

According to a December 2020 report in US-based news website Washington Post, Abd released an instrumental track in almost every month of the pandemic year, like a techno diary, keeping pace with how the world was feeling, through her music. April’s “Stimulus” track for instance, felt worried and teasing, while May’s “Quarantine” had impatient drums and a sense of disorientation. In contrast, the “Emotional” song, released after Joe Biden was selected as US President, was so upbeat, it invited people to dance, wherever they were. Can you identify Abd’s stage name (15-Across)?

In our Crossword today, is also a dream-pop trio that formed in 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon (identify the band’s name in 1-Down). Their music extends from dream-pop to post-punk, and scratches surf rock territory. A typical song by the trio features a captivating, wispy voice guiding you through a world of crashing guitars, buzzing synthesizers and melodic bass lines. The group also channels their hopes and fears for Lebanon’s turbulent politics and social issues into their songs, with themes like hope, chaos, alienation and the pursuit of light in darkness.

Which indie musician or band do you listen to from the Middle East? Play today’s Crossword and let us know at games@gulfnews.com.