New Music Monday: Soapkills

cram260_soapkills_cover_loresBefore Yasmine Hamdan’s solo career began in earnest, she and Zeid Hamdan (no relation) founded a band in Beirut, Lebanon in the late 90s. Heavily influenced by the sounds of dub and trip hop and calling themselves Soapkills, the duo combined Arab music (both classical and folk) with electronic music to produce a unique and influential sound. In the decade since Soapkills’ final album was released, the band’s reputation has only grown in the Arab music world. Crammed Discs, the Belgian label that released Yasmine’s latest record, is now releasing a compilation, aptly titled The Best of Soapkills. 14-track collection had its tracklisting chosen by Yasmine and Zeid themselves.

During their active years, Soapkills led the charge in a burgeoning music and arts scene within Beirut. They were a major influence on the scene’s development and are rightly held in high esteem within the world of Arab music. The duo performed contemporary versions of classical songs, initially using Zeid’s Roland MC-303 Groovebox as the primary instrument. Yasmine and Zeid eventually expanded their sound with a wider variety of instruments including trumpet, flute, saxophone, bass, and drums.

During their active years, Soapkills led the charge in a burgeoning music and arts scene within Beirut. They were a major influence on the scene’s development and are rightly held in high esteem within the world of Arab music. They are not nearly as well known throughout the United States, but The Best of Soapkills will, one hopes, raise Soapkills’ profile and the profiles of Yasmine and Zeid Hamdan.

The Best of Soapkills is out January 22nd on Crammed Discs, and is available for preorder on iTunes.