Emel Mathlouthi

Ensen

Out February 24th 2018

Partisan Records

Partisan Records is excited to announce the signing of Emel Mathlouthi (Emel) and the release of her forthcoming sophomore album, Ensen, coming out February 24, 2017.

Emel rose to prominence after her 2007 recording “Kelmti Horra (My Word Is Free)” became a viral anthem during the Arab Spring, earning her the title “voice of the Tunisian revolution” and eventually an invitation to perform at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Her powerful, heartfelt music defies genres, melding together electronica, Tunisian textures and a cinematic universe. Combining the political and the personal, Emel expresses not just her feelings but those of so many people. “It is important to me to try to give voice to the silenced. I also believe, though, that art is its own message, that especially when you come from a repressive place, or an ignored place, the simple act of saying, ‘Hey, I’m here,’ is important – the art of presence and insistence.”

On her sophomore album, Ensen, Emel distills her blend of acoustic and electronic sounds into a style that’s even more uniquely her own, citing Ben Frost, Samaris and James Blake as influences. With several producers, including Valgeir Sigurðsson (Sigur Ros, Feist) and her main collaborator French/Tunisian producer Amine Metani, Emel recorded the new album across seven countries and two continents. “We recorded acoustic takes of the songs, using a lot of North African drumming. Then we started creating our own library of organic beats running the percussions through our homemade effects and setups. They sounded like nothing we’d ever heard.” “Ensen Dhaif (Helpless Human),” the title track, is propelled by sparkling gumbri (a Tunisian three stringed big bass lute, used in Gnawa music), feverish zukra (Tunisian flute), trance inducing bendirs (North African frame drums) and heavy kick drum.

Emel‘s music has motivated many to express themselves, and she fights particularly hard to be a pillar of strength for women worldwide. “Everyone assumes there is a man directing or ‘pulling the strings’ behind a female artist” she says. “It is unbelievable the macho attitudes I’ve had to overcome to make this album. I hope people see Ensen as a reminder that women create every day and a testament to the strength it can take to do so.” 

Blessed with an exceptionally wide vocal range and expressive voice, Emel‘s impassioned live performances go far beyond the sounds on the album. “I never perform the same way twice. I am more of a show person than a studio artist; the songs have a second life once the recording is done. I’m very free with my vocals. My musicians adapt to any direction I want to take.” All confirmed dates below, and forthcoming US dates to be announced soon.