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You Must Hear This: Omar Souleyman
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You Must Hear This: Omar Souleyman
You Must Hear This: Omar Souleyman
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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, singer and composer Bjork. That's evidently how you should pronounce the name spelled B-J-O-R-K, and she's about to tell you what you must hear.

In our series You Must Hear This, musicians talk about music they love. Bjork is from Iceland, and she's known for her ethereal voice and her eclectic musical style. And she tells us that she's been listening to the work of a musician from Syria.

Ms. BJORK (Singer/Songwriter): First time I heard Omar Souleyman was on YouTube. Some people call what he plays Syrian techno.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of music)

But I think what's refreshing about Omar Souleyman is just the party and fun, and it's really alive and very urgent, and he's not shy of using synths and electronics and drum machines and YouTube. So he's, like, really eager to make something that's vibrant today, you know?

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. OMAR SOULEYMAN (Musician): (Singing in Arabic)

BJORK: I always heard interesting stories like that he has one man called Mahmoud Harbi who is a longtime collaborator, and he writes poems for him. And when they are really warmed up and really going for an Arabic dance party, Mahmoud Harbi stands next to him on stage and sort of chain-smokes. And then he will whisper in the ear poetry that he's writing at the moment on the top of his head, and Omar will sing it immediately in the microphone what he heard. And then he will run around the room and excite people all around the room, and he would come up, and Mahmoud Harbi will whisper some more stuff into his ear. I thought that was quite an exciting way for a poet and an emcee to work together.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SOULEYMAN: (Singing in Arabic)

SIEGEL: That was Bjork, talking about one her favorite musicians, Omar Souleyman of Syria. You can hear Bjork select other songs as she plays DJ on All Songs Considered at nprmusic.org. And at that page, you can also listen to Bjork's entire new album. It's called "Voltaic."

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SOULEYMAN: (Singing in Arabic).

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