Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ode to Zai

More and more Iraqi heavy metal is grac(z)ing the web, I wouldn't really post about it except that most recently videos of who I called early in my blog "Iraqi Metal Supernode" Saad Zai are popping up all over YouTube.

Saad Zai (which rhymes with Steve Vai) was a man of slim build who looked many years younger than his age, like most Assyrians he was nice and friendly, but there was something about him, while he usually smiles politely and responded to jokes in kind, I've never seen him break into sincere laughter, suggesting some sort of morose attitude to the world in general, my impression of him was the cliched nice and naive Christian padded with a peculiar strand of streetwise Iraqi cynicism that he seemed to have picked up to make him pass as more than cursorily nice, most of his jokes (all in deadpan) were pretty original and witty , producing a somewhat interesting blend of character. He was universally admired, but I must admit that my time with him wasn't really something I'd remember fondly, and I don't think he'd remember me either, except for my scowl. The reason for said scowl is that after having taught myself guitar from the internet for the first seven months or so I decided to get a few lessons out of him, so I'd go over his messy shop which always looked like it was hit by an RPG (sadly, it was really hit by an RPG a few months after I left Iraq, but our man - who has renal failure - miraculously emerged from the rubble.) I'd go in confident in my abilities and he would give me crap about how I would make a "fine beggar" احسن مكدي with my hand position, and I would return home, unconvinced and frustrated, after a long time, of course, I realized that he was right. Some people (well, Anarki-13) have said that Zai is the best guitarist in the Middle East, see for yourself:
These terrible recordings depressingly eclipse his talent, and they are a fitting representation of what Iraqi Heavy Metal looked like: a messy, uncertain haze.

Fur Elise

Original Track:



There's also some other interesting Iraqi guitar videos on YouTube, here's a guy I know vaguley playing Canon Rock.
More interestingly, here's a beautiful Iraqi girl playing beautiful Iraqi folklore on classical guitar.
You may also want to check out the group Sumer, which is composed of Scandinavian singers singing Iraqi folk songs, directed by an Iraqi musician named Talal, the result is quite amazing.
I'm composing a list on the sidebar for all the Iraqi guitar I find on YouTube, it's going to be up soon.


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