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Rabih Abou-Khalil

Prog Folk

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Rabih Abou-Khalil Bitter Harvest album cover
4.91 | 4 ratings | 1 reviews | 75% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Bitter Harvest (Requiem II) (17:36)
2. Machghara (5:55)
3. Huqul Wasi'a (Open Fields) (7:05)
4. Bela's Boogie (4:10)
5. Amal (Hope) (1:55)

Total time 36:41

Line-up / Musicians

- Rabih Abou-Khalil / oud, flute, glockenspiel, voice

- Michael Armann / piano, voice
- Jonathan Brock / percussion, voice
- Shankar Lal / tabla

Releases information

LP MMP ‎- MMP 170884 (1984, Germany)

Thanks to clemofnazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Bitter Harvest ratings distribution

(4 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(75%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RABIH ABOU-KHALIL Bitter Harvest reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
5 stars ‘Stunning’ is the only word that approaches an accurate description of Rabih Abou-Khalil’s forgotten 1984 masterpiece ‘Bitter Harvest’. The fact that this record has never been remastered and released on CD is yet another demonstration of just how out-of-touch with the soul of the music they represent label executives really are.

I assume the title track refers to the modern history of Palestine circa 1914 through at least the late seventies or so. Although Abou-Khalil grew up in Germany and lives today in France, he is by birth Lebanese and surely is one of the few contemporary world folk musicians today with a first-hand knowledge and appreciation of the many nuances of that peoples’ struggle. The raw emotion that emanates from Abou-Khalil’s oud and virtuoso Michael Armann’s piano keys is breathtaking; the tabla and percussion give the music its Eastern flavor, but Abou-Khalil and Armann fairly shine over the course of the nearly eighteen minute opus. The rolling musical landscapes in this composition could only be accurately described by a knowledgeable music theorist (which I am not), but suffice to say the layers of percussion, piano and oud offset at times by strong flute and persistent tabla rhythm are rich, complex and thoroughly intoxicating. You have to hear it yourself to truly appreciate how many levels above the world-music norm this album sits.

Although Abou-Khalil would go on to considerable renown as an oud player, on this early release he also indulges quite a bit in another musical passion of his, the flute. This is especially true on the title track and “Haqul Wasi'a (Open Fields)”, the latter being a much more subdued piece than “Bitter Harvest”, and far more focused on flute and oud with Armann’s piano taking on a subtle complementary role.

“Machghara”, like the opening song, pairs up Abou-Khalil’s flute with Armann’s piano, but this is a livelier and less serious work that showcases the four artists’ abilities to feed off each other musically in what sounds to be at least a partially improvised and jazzy session.

And speaking of less serious, the album closes with a couple of brief, light pieces that brighten the mood considerably after the first half of the album’s more somber introduction. “Bala's Boogie” is another flute-driven composition, but not in the overpowering way the earlier tracks were, and with lots of discordant piano and erratic tabla to break things up in a humorous fashion. And the final song “Amal (Hope)” is a simple, largely bi-tonal postscript to “Haqul Wasi'a” which ends abruptly after just a couple of minutes.

I only have a few of Abou-Khalil’s CDs, and this one is only available on vinyl or on-line, with the vinyl being pretty much impossible to find. I don’t hesitate to peg five stars on the album even though there isn’t even half of another song as potent as the opening title track. The total package and experience is one of exquisite bliss amid somber reflection; like everything else I’ve heard Abou-Khalil put out, this is music that really gets under your skin – in a good way.


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