It’s been a little over six years since we last heard from Syrian “mountain rock reggae” collective – or at least this is how they like to describe their music – Toot Ard (توت أرض), and boy we are so glad we did!
The sextet made their much-over-due come back earlier this year with a 6-track album titled “Laissez Passer“. It’s a travel document issued by governments or organisations to stateless individuals for humanitarian reasons such as restoring family links.
And that – on one hand – describes the members’ legal standpoint coming from a small village in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, which they distinctly explain in the title track, but on the other hand further extends to describe the mindset behind their borderless music.
Throughout the album, Toot Ard continue to lyrically express themselves through their mountain village environment by describing the “off the grid” primitive life before the industrial revolution.
This is beautifully illustrated in tracks like “Sahra” and “Asfur” (Flying Bird). It also becomes evidently clear where other traditional elements are infused in conventional love songs like “Habeitek” (I Love You) and “Nasma Jabaliya” (Mountain Breeze).
“Laissez Passer” sees a notable maturity in Toot Ard’s personality since their debut, not only in their unique musical style; gliding across the borders of West African, Saharan, Caribbean grooves and classical Arabic modalities, but also from a production point of value. This album seems to favour quality over quantity.
With tour dates across Europe and Morocco this summer, we only hope it doesn’t take them another six years to please our ears with new music.
Photo: Nayef Hammouri
Toot Ard on Facebook.