Spotify Playlists

F+R Mixed Case: A Taste of Lebanon

As part of our celebration of Chateau Musar's 90th anniversary, we've teamed up with DJs and avid music collectors, Leo Walton and Gavin Lucas from Amateurism Radio, to curate a series of Spotify playlists to introduce us to the diverse, exquisite and ever-evolving world of Lebanese music from the 1960s through to 2020. Just as our mixed cases of Chateau Musar will provide different flavours from across the decades, so these playlists offer an opportunity to tune in to a variety of musical styles from different moments in the development of Lebanese musical culture.

1960s | F+R Mixed Case: A Taste of Lebanon

Lebanese music in the 1960s developed under two main influences. On the one hand, a new national cultural identity was being formed through the music of Fairouz and the Rahbani Brothers and their iconic annual performances (complete with dancers in full folkloric costume) at The Baalbek International Festival, founded in the mid '50s. Traditional Lebanese folk music and singing flourished, evolved and took on new meaning during the 1960s and '70s, and several Lebanese singers became hugely popular across the MENA region, notably Sabah and Wadih El Safi. The other force starting to influence Lebanese music at this time was pop music arriving from the UK. The music of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, for example, led Lebanese musicians in Beirut to start to experiment and develop a distinctly Lebanese rock'n'roll sound.

1970s | F+R Mixed Case: A Taste of Lebanon

The Civil War (1975-1990) did little to suppress the creative energy of Lebanese musical culture. Records from other parts of the world were still finding their way to Lebanon (often in the luggage of frequent travellers who worked for Middle Eastern Airlines), inspiring musical hybrids as traditional Lebanese sounds were fused with funk, soul and disco from America. Discotheques still played records for people to dance – and musicians still found ways to record and distribute their music despite the madness of war in Beirut and across Lebanon.

2000s | F+R Mixed Case: A Taste of Lebanon

This playlist reveals that the popularity of traditional music and instrumentation in Lebanon showed no signs of waning in the first decade of the 21st century. Composer, singer and virtuoso oud player, Marcel Khalife released his first album in 1976 but released no less than eight studio albums in the 2000s. Meanwhile, new sounds were starting to emerge from Beirut. Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan fronted Soapkills, one of the very first independent electronic bands in the Middle East who released three albums between 1999 and 2005 before Yasmin started to release music under her own name.

2010s | F+R Mixed Case: A Taste of Lebanon

Lebanese music, rather like Chateau Musar, is not just something that stays in Lebanon. Indie four-piece band Mashrou' Leila formed in 2008 and fused a classic rock combo approach with a kind of retro Beirut sound. They were the first Middle Eastern artist to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and helped to spark a thriving alternative rock scene in Beirut. And, at the same time, Marcel Khalife's son, Bachar Mar-Khalife, led the way for a new generation of Lebanese musicians. A composer and multi-instrumentalist, Mar-Khalife released four albums between 2010 and 2018 and made a name for himself collaborating on projects that fused jazz, Arabic sounds, electronica and hip hop. His 2015 album Yar Balad was distributed in the UK by the mighty Warp Records, home to acts such as Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus, and Nightmares on Wax.

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