One DJ act that is always associated with mixing Middle Eastern melodies with Western electronic beats, is Lebanon’s REG Project.
Formerly a trio, REG Project is now represented by only one of the members, DJ Ralph Khoury, who returns with a new album. Bringing an Arabic twist to the Buddha Bar/Café del Mar scene, REG Project V is the sixth studio album to be released featuring the DJ group’s name.
“Following the success of REG Project IV last year, I thought that now is the time to come up with a new album, and something different for our fans,” Khoury tells Emirates Business.
“I love all the tracks because they are all so close to my heart, but the ones that are particularly special to me are the songs incorporating elements from the past.”
REG Project was founded in 2001 when Elie Barbar and Guy Manoukian – who were working together at the time – heard Khoury spinning at a club in Beirut. They were so impressed, they asked him to join them. REG represent the first names of each member.
The first 12” from the trio, Harem, was a local hit, eventually catching the attention of the international club scene, particularly French DJ Claude Challe, the man behind the Buddha Bar compilations.
The DJ/producer was so impressed with their music, he went on to release a compilation album featuring nothing but REG Project mixes, called Claude Challe Presents: Near Eastern Lounge, in 2003. Five years later Khoury is drawing on the charm of Egyptian musicality, fusing REG Project’s sought-after blend of oriental and occidental sounds, as well as some revamped mixes of the best old tunes around.
Warda’s Lawla Al Malama (If there was no blame) and Min Gheir Leh (You don’t have to ask me why), written for legendary Egyptian singer Abdel Halim by composer and songwriter, Abdel Wahab are just two of the highlights of the new album.
“Min Gheir Leh has to be one of my favourites, because of the history of the song. Abdel Halim was ill and in hospital at the time, and Abdel Wahab went to visit him, telling him that he wrote this song for him, and that he had to get better so he could sing it on stage,” Khoury says. “Unfortunately, Abdel Halim passed away and never got to sing it.”
Khoury adds there is something about old Egyptian music that attracts the artist.
“I don’t know what it is but you just feel it as soon as you are on Egyptian soil. I’m just in love with the beautiful music from the past. Today’s music is nothing compared to it,” he says.
REG Project V (2008)
REG Project IV (2007)
REG Project III (2005)
REG Project II (2003)
New Oriental (2002)
REG Project I (2001)
REG back in town as a solo Project