Like 98% of U.S. citizens (including the President), I am the descendant of immigrants—my great-grandparents came to America from Russia and Lithuania as teenagers and worked in sweatshops until they were able to afford to bring the rest of their families over. Most everyone you speak to in this country has a similar story to tell, because we are, in fact, a nation of immigrants, bound together by a shared belief in justice, equality, and the freedom to pursue a better life. In this context, last week’s Executive Order barring immigrants and refugees from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States is not simply immoral, it violates the very spirit and foundation of America.
Contrary to the assertions of the current administration, the order will not make us safer (an opinion shared by the State Department and many members of Congress including prominent Republicans). Christian religious leaders have denounced both the ban, as well as the exception prioritizing Christian immigrants, as inhumane. It is an unequivocal moral wrong, a cynical attempt to sow division among the American people, and is in direct opposition to the principles of a country where the tenet of religious freedom is written directly into the Constitution. This is not who we are, and it is not what we believe in. We at Bandcamp oppose the ban wholeheartedly, and extend our support to those whose lives have been upended.
And so all day today (starting at 12:01am Pacific Time), for any purchase you make on Bandcamp, we will be donating 100% of our share of the proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union, who are working tirelessly to combat these discriminatory and unconstitutional actions.
As another way of showing solidarity with the immigrants and refugees from the seven banned countries—as well as those impacted by the construction of the Mexican border wall—we’ve compiled a list of albums made by artists from the affected countries (Bandcamp may be incorporated in the United States, but we host artists from every corner of the world). We believe that knowledge and empathy are crucial weapons against fear and intolerance. We hope that, as you listen to these albums, you’ll not only discover some great new artists, but will also gain a further appreciation and understanding for the way music transcends all borders, and remember that, even in the darkest of times, there is more that unites us than divides us.
— Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp Founder & CEO
(Updated Feb. 2: Since our announcement, over 150 bands and labels have volunteered to donate their proceeds to the ACLU and other organizations as well. You can see that list here.)
A dreamy pair of tracks from this Mexico City darkwave duo. “Las paredes” keeps the pace of a racing heart; a ticking drum machine and synth harmonics push forward interwoven heavenly vocal melodies and luxe, washed-out ribbons of guitar. “Olvida” is made for the slow sway of the goth club floor. —Jes Skolnik
Fierce raw punk with the kind of clattering d-beat that sounds like it’s going to topple over and into itself at any point; its sonic precarity makes it feel all the more urgent. Rippling vocal delay, buzzsaw guitars, a blur of bass: the band says this is a demo (their debut LP came out in 2014), but it sounds better-recorded and more energetic than some official albums we’ve heard recently. The harsh howl near the end of “Muerte en la ciudad” will make the hair on your arms stand straight up. —Jes Skolnik
A mournful electrified Syrian oud cries alone on stage, joined eventually by another before the powerful and equally mournful voice of Omar Souleyman joins them on “Mawal Hejaz,” the opening track of Haflat Gharbia: The Western Concerts. Western ears may already be familiar with Souleyman’s electro-infused Syrian folk-pop. Souleyman began his career as a singer for wedding parties in northeastern Syria and gained fame throughout the country and the rest of the Arab world through distribution of live recordings on tapes and CDs, eventually reaching a global audience. This album captures the best moments of his live shows between 2009 and 2011, culminating in a groundbreaking performance at the Glastonbury festival. —Ally-Jane Grossan
There’s no shortage of Syrian metal—in fact a crowdfunding campaign recently reached its goal to make a documentary about the scene. Theoria is Syria’s best example of atmospheric black metal, echoing the languid, yet punishing, tempo of their American and European counterparts (the band cites Chaos Moon, Cloudkicker, Darkspace, and Lunar Aurora as influences). Based in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, the two members (identified as Ahmad and Besher) previously released death metal as Crescent Moon but on Mantra, their debut as Theoria (released by French label Antiq), the guitar sound becomes elegant and the vocals less guttural. —Ally-Jane Grossan
One of the more prolific Iraqi artists on Bandcamp, the Erbil-based Wirephobia has over 40 releases of discordant, experimental noise, including several split singles with other noise artists from around the globe. “Kurdistan” is one of his more accessible releases (although those with sensitive ears should still be wary of turning up the volume), featuring samples of Middle Eastern music that drop suddenly into wells of harsh and crackling noise. It was released as an 8-track cartridge and a very limited edition 12-inch by Rochester, New York-based noise label H8-Track Stereo. —Mariana Timony
If you like your metal ultra-raw and super fast, you’re going to love Dark Phantom, Iraq’s first thrash band. Their backstory is as intense as their music. Started in 2007 as a way to express both their love of metal and their feelings about the shitty situation in their home city of Bagdhad, the band struggled to achieve their dreams as a result of the Iraq war, with members frequently having to go into hiding for their own safety. It took until 2016 for their pummeling, brutal debut Nation of Dogs to makes its debut. As a metal record, it slays. As a testament of the band’s will to survive, it is a powerful paean to the human spirit. Dark Phantom’s bio puts it best: “Music itself means life.” —Mariana Timony
Akvan, named for a Zoroastrian demon who represents the concept of “evil mind” or “evil intention,” blends atmospheric black metal and traditional Iranian folk music to gorgeous, seamless, and unique effect. This is music both deeply visceral and deeply hypnotic. The lyrics pull from classic texts like the Shanameh (“Book of Kings”), the epic poetic retelling of Iranian history that is Iran’s answer to the Mahabharata. Be on the lookout, as we’ve got an interview with Akvan coming in the next few weeks you won’t want to miss. —Jes Skolnik
Tehran’s Arsha Samsaminia enlists a global cast of luminaries from the contemporary classical world, including the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, Japanese violinist Ken Aiso (who studied in London at the Royal Academy of Music and currently resides in L.A.), the Georgian Tbilisi Contemporary Ensemble (conducted by pianist Nino Jvania), and Italian pianist Andrea Dindo, to play a set of his new compositions. Full of space and ambience, these elegant works are haunting, particularly “Disabling a Bomb Inside the Piano,” which is as tense, delicate, and evocative as its name would suggest.—Jes Skolnik
Awal Akalin from the Tripoli desert blues outfit Chaco puts the genre’s hypnotic style on full, riveting display. The recording sounds like it’s taken from a live performance: there’s chatter between the songs and a few false starts, but all of that only adds to the album’s electric feel. The band works up to a steady groove quickly and stays there: the guitars in the title track loop and dart like needlepoint work; “Emari N Yala” is carried along by jubilant gang vocals, guitars and percussion swaying gently—almost imperceptibly—beneath the euphoric shouts. The mood throughout is warm and relaxed—“Aholaghin Ere Yaglan” even has some bent-string riffing that wouldn’t be out of place on an American blues record. The songs on Awal Akalin are always in motion: beautiful, serene and hypnotic. —J. Edward Keyes
Proof that video games know no borders, Tripoli’s DJ Strike has assembled a brief EP full of skull-crushing dubstep remixes and covers of beloved console music. What makes the collection work is Strike’s giddy sense of humor: the moment in “Luigi’s Mansion Dubstep Mix” when the classic EDM “drop” is introduced with the heroic cry, “Mario!” is worth the (low) price of admission in and of itself. But there are other unlikely high points: “Donkey Kong Country 2 Sticker Brush Remix” becomes an emotional slice of synth balladry that wouldn’t be out of place on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, while the drum-and-bassy take on the Legend of Zelda theme augments chiptune’s Lite Brite bleeps with frantically scurrying rhythms. —J. Edward Keyes
K E R M A—the debut release from Sudanese musician Sufyvn—feels connected to the Los Angeles beat scene, even if the artist himself is more than 8,500 miles away. Combining glitchy synthetics and obscure Sudanese samples, K E R M A plays like something you’d hear on Stones Throw or Alpha Pup, setting a contemplative mood. “Places,” with its string loop and stuttering percussion, evokes a 1990s jazz-rap hybrid. “Ashrinkall” is remarkably festive, employing a hazy soundscape suited for the dance floor. Dance floors in Africa and the United States. — Marcus J. Moore
The world needs to dance. I don’t mean a casual two-step with overpriced liquor in your hand. I mean a flat-out, “shake your ass ‘till you forget where you are” kind of night. Enter Gory, a North Kurdufan producer, whose newest project here is a EP mixes scant electronic soul and ambient house music. The compositions are dark and hypnotic, full of bleak tinges. In a good way, these sounds pull from nostalgic Quiet Storm R&B without reinventing the past. — Marcus J. Moore
❖’s 2013 EP is just four songs long, but what impresses is the way it’s able to create a distinct mood in such a short period of time. Its songs are built from weatherbeaten synth tones that crackle and pop—as much distortion as they are melody. On opener “i x u,” a scuffed-up, blown-out synth line is stretched out across depth-charge bass tones, clawing its way from the song’s beginning to its end. The mood continues on “n æ o “; the beats thump like an android heartbeat as sandpapered electronics wax and wane. There’s much this approach could suggest: the triumph of beauty, no matter how battered; the existence of peace in a grinding post-industrial landscape. But in the end, that kind of speculation is almost beside the point. ❖ has created a small world with their music. The best option is to close your eyes and disappear inside it.—J. Edward Keyes
Sahra Halgan’s music speaks directly to the old and new, blending traditional Somali songs with Afropop. Much like her previous work, her latest album Faransiskiyo Somaliland partially speaks to her own experience as a refugee of Somaliland. She addresses the ups and downs of fellow natives, and creates music that debunks widespread hate and violence. Send Donald the Bandcamp link. — Marcus J. Moore