Mukdad Rothenberg Lankow translate years of experience into music that unfolds in a sense of hope.
Says Volker Lankow, "It comes from everywhere and nowhere."
First meeting at David Rothenberg's "Nightingales in Berlin" project, the three musicians recorded this
improvised fusion of experiences with oud, clarinet and percussion. A meditation on survival and
resilience, on empathy and love. Each musician, a master of his instrument, seamlessly interweaves
phrases and nuance expressing pain and joy, expectation and relief. Wassim Mukdad is a refugee from
Syria who escaped torture first to Istanbul now in Berlin. Volker Lankow worked with Medecins sans
frontiere in crisis torn zones and now with mentally ill criminals. Rothenberg, an author and
philosopher, brings his exploration of the idea of sound to this trio. This is an album of music from an
entire region of the world, crossing cultural barriers and tribal sides.
After the fourth time he was tortured Wassim Mukdad realized he had to leave Syria.
"I could see things getting much worse. Luckily, they never found out I was a musician. They knew I was
a doctor and I kept my hands out of harms way." Trained in medicine, Wassim had volunteered to help
the victims of the violence that had overtaken his homeland. An accomplished performer on the oud, he
had put his love for music aside to help people.
Wassim began his arduous journey north in 2014. After two years working with USAID in Istanbul, he
made his way to Berlin. A student of musicology at Humboldt University, He is not recognized as one of
the most creative and promising oud players in Europe. "I don't consider myself an Arab musician or a
Turkish musician. I play music shaped by an entire region of the world, crossing cultural barriers and
tribal sides. Here in Berlin now, I am studying all this and how it connects to the music of the West."
Volker Lankow had worked for fourteen years as a nurse and project manager for Medecins sans
Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, choosing to work in zones of tough conflict like the one from which
Wassim was able to escape. Now back in Berlin he works with mentally ill criminals for the German
state. An accomplished percussionist he performs on frame drums and tabla among other instruments.
Wassim and Volker share years of rough experiences in conflict regions and in their playing together one
hears a path toward clarity and beauty out of terrible shadows. "It is a delight to play with Volker, a
percussionist who does not need to show off, who has nothing to prove."
Wassim Mukdad met Volker Lankow as part of David Rothenberg's "Nightingales in Berlin" project which
documented the group of musicians' attempts to play live with the birds in the dark parks of Germany's
capital city. Clarinetist and author, Rothenberg was inspired by the rapport these two offered to each
other and got the trio into Berlin's Studio Wong for one perfect day when all this music was improvised.
Mukdad Rothenberg Lankow translate years of experience into music that unfolds with a worldwide
sense of hope. Says Volker, "It comes from everywhere and nowhere."