Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) is an immersive audio-visual performance project, with Lebanese-Canadian producer/musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and Montréal-based filmmaker Erin Weisgerber at its core. JIMH is an ever-evolving effort to forge a modern experimental Arabic music, fused with analog film using hand-made processes and live projection techniques, that combine to produce multi-media works of intensive cross-cultural and socio-political artistry. JIMH is guided by Moumneh’s melding of Arabic song traditions with modern deployments of modular synthesis and electronics, often featuring his own buzuk-playing, Arabic lyric-writing and melismatic singing. Weisgerber manipulates the properties of 16mm film to expand the materiality and narrative scope of the music. In its original incarnation, Jerusalem In My Heart was a site-specific multi-media happening of strictly one-off interdisciplinary live performance events orchestrated by Moumneh. No two JIMH concerts were ever the same; each was a particular and newly composed presentation of music, set design, film/video and theater/dance components with a singular concept and narrative.
In 2012, Moumneh began to re-conceive JIMH as a recording project and live audio-visual duo, where performances could be ‘repeated’; the visual component would convey Moumneh’s passion for the materiality of experimental analog film. First with filmmaker Malena Szlam (2013) and then Charles-André Coderre (2014–2019), the JIMH live experience has always been marked by 16mm analog film projections that incorporate hand-processed and hand-manipulated elements. In 2019, Erin Weisgerber joined JIMH, signaling a further evolution and refinement of the project’s aesthetic.
JIMH has released three highly acclaimed full-length recordings with the Montréal experimental indie label Constellation (alongside a collaborative album with rock band SUUNS on Secretly Canadian, and a contribution to the Grapefruit Records series, among others). The project’s 2013 debut Mo7it Al-Mo7it was its first foray into studio recordings, seeking a new hybrid Arabic music, melding traditional middle-eastern instrumentation with electronics, tuning and modifying western instruments to arrive at new sounds. On JIMH’s second album If He Dies, If If If If If If (2015) the work pushed a more intentional polarity, juxtaposing melodies and traditions of Arabic song with harsher and more interventionist electronics. Daqa’iq Tudaiq (2018) documents Jerusalem In My Heart in Beirut for an on-location recording with a middle-eastern orchestra of Lebanese musicians, performing Moumneh’s re-imagining of a classical Arabic piece; this constituted side one of the album, with solo electro-acoustic works on side two, taking a recurring JIMH dualism (on recordings) to a further extreme. Daqai’iq Tudaiq was premiered at Le Guess Who? Festival with the full Lebanese orchestra, and special guest Nadah El-Shazly joining Moumneh on vocals and electronics.
With fourth album Qalaq (October 2021) JIMH presents its most distilled, gripping, and intensely sculpted record to date—featuring a different guest on each of its 13 tracks, including Moor Mother, Tim Hecker, Lucrecia Dalt, Greg Fox, Rabih Beaini, Alanis Obomsawin and Oiseaux-Tempête. Despite these atomized (and distanced) collaborations, Moumneh’s overall compositional arc integrates them into an album flow that makes Qalaq the least dualistic, most formally diverse yet compelling cohesive JIMH record to date. “Qalaq” is an Arabic word with a meaning Moumneh particularly intends as “deep worry”; on various universal levels (needless to say) but also specifically with respect to Lebanon/Beirut, its collapsing domestic politics, economy and infrastructure, tragic geopolitics, and the desperate extremisms rending all of its adjacent states. Framed by Moumneh’s spoken and sung Arabic, buzuk and sound design, Qalaq is a visceral and haunting work of contemporary electronics, Arabic songcraft and sound art.
JIMH has toured extensively over the past decade. Among hundreds of headlining, co-headlining, and festival appearances in Europe, Canada and Lebanon, JIMH has been a guest curator at Le Guess Who? and appeared at CTM, Big Ears, Rewire, FIMAV, Supersonic, Clandestino, Sonic City and Transmissions among many other avant-music festivals. The duo’s most recent tour in Spring 2020 (co-headlining with Lucrecia Dalt) was cut short by the pandemic after just a few dates. Jerusalem In My Heart returns to stages in Europe and Canada in late 2021 with a new audio-visual presentation for Qalaq.
Radwan Ghazi Moumneh is a Lebanese national living and working in Tiohtiá:ke/Montréal. Deploying buzuk, modular electronics, and voice he has created a body of work that challenges and re-imagines Arabic contemporary music. His unique musical sensibility also sprawls outward: as a prolific producer and co-owner of the Hotel2Tango studio, he has recorded and produced a long list of albums, by Mashrou’ Leila, Silver Mt Zion, Big Brave, Marie Davidson, Tim Hecker, Lou Doillon, SUUNS, Fly Pan Am, and the Coin Coin series by Matana Roberts, to name just a few.
Erin Weisgerber is a filmmaker originally from ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwaciwâskahikan) / Edmonton, Alberta. With photo-chemical filmmaking at the core of her practice, she produces poetic, single-channel films that hover between figuration and abstraction. Employing techniques including in-camera manipulation, hand-processing, and re-photography, Weisgerber manipulates the photographic, chemical, and material properties of 16mm film to transform imagery that melds her external vision and internal landscape. She performs 16mm film and audio loops live with JIMH on multiple projectors. As with previous JIMH filmmakers Szlam and Coderre, Weisgerber is a member of Double Negative Collective, a Montréal-based experimental film group founded in 2004.
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