After around a dozen releases under aliases – many of which yours truly had in fact released on tape, and on at least one occasion even collaborated on in a minor way – Lebanese Osman Arabi released an album with his own name. What the significance of that is, is left for the listener to decide because there’s precious little information on offer here. Under the tray is a picture of what may be the artist himself as a child in surroundings bombed to smithereens.
The style marked a radical shift from the aggressive and at times even crude post-apocalyptic industrial noise of 20.SV and the ominous, occult ambience of Seeker; some have said there’s a prominent “ethnic” (or “world music” or whatever) aspect to the music, but I beg to differ. Tribal ritualistic drumming is in no way “ethnic” in the context of repetitive, meditative ambience, which broadly speaking Burning Sigils fits under. Some of the instrumentation may have a somewhat non-European/western flair to them (scarcely surprising, considering the artist is from Lebanon), but again: when the overall tone of the music is meditative and ritualistic in a non-specific way, a few details don’t make for ethnic/world music.
I admit: in the review I wrote for Plague Haus back in 2008, I claimed this had a strong ethnic/middle-eastern flair, but I have since then started to see Burning Sigils differently. It’s not that the vibe isn’t there, it just doesn’t define the piece in the manner I thought at first.
The CD consists of a single 38-minute piece of percussion-driven ambience that revolves around looping simple melodies and industrial rumblings. The atmosphere is, considering the past releases of the artist, surprisingly serene, calm and bright… optimistic even. Where Seeker, often ritualistic as well, was dark and haunting, Burning Sigils is in many ways the polar opposite.
Due to the repetitive nature of the recording, Burning Sigils does not stand concentrated listening very well. However, as background music it is appropriately unobtrusive and minimalistic to not draw attention, but fill the space with non-irritating music. Whilst certainly not the best release by the artist, Burning Sigils is interesting enough to justify its existence.