Duets for Abdelrazik
We approached Canadian musician / campaigner Stefan Christoff‘s Duets for Abdelrazik project with some caution. Though the grounding moral message here is solid and valuable, and the list of musical collaborators respected, we have found that a politically vocal musical release can potentially manifest its own downfall. Despite strong moral intentions, musical projects can suffer from allowing the music itself to take a back seat, ending up contributing little to either cause. Not as a rule, of course, but occasionally “protest music” is in danger of qualifying as neither.
Happily, Duets for Abdelrazik does not fall into such traps. Born from the same protest circles and philosophies as the grassroots campaigns that Montreal has been so involved with and protective of, the musical performers here also span the city’s pivotal scenes and artists. Recording took place at the near-legendary Hotel2Tango - home of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and the Constellation label - and features names that appear on several guest credits of important Montrealer albums.
The pieces are centred around Christoff’s piano, and - as the title would suggest - feature a guest performer in harmony and foil to Christoff’s lines. The results are (morally speaking) reflective of the anguish, outrage, resilience and fraternity that political victim Abousfian Abdelrazik went through during his forced struggle between the Canadian and Sudanese governments. It also, crucially, acts as a crier, demanding that Abdelrazik’s troubles are not forgotten or ignored.
Musically speaking, the record is similarly evocative, combining elements and timbres of the melancholy and the exotic. One of two leaked tracks, the piece we feature below sees Sam Shalabi duet on oud with Christoff, a serpentine, Eastern melody that sits at odds with the comforting purity of the untreated piano, but spiriting the track into hauntingly beautiful territory.