MUSIC REVIEW: Checkpoint 303 – Gaza Mixtape (2023)

Four track EP, showing solidarity with the ordinary people living in the Gaza Strip, trying to live a normal life in difficult circumstances.  To put it mildly.

Checkpoint 303 are sonic activists making electronic music,  combining beats, samples and an oud. They weave into the music samples from field recordings made in Palestine,  Tunisia and Egypt.

The first track is a remix of Gaza Calling, originally released earlier this year. Released just one day after the 7th October 2023 massacre carried out by Hamas, it accurately uses terminology that would soon be utilised by moderate voices around the world,  talking of ‘collective punishment’ of the Palestinian people being illegal under international law. It’s Middle East meets break beats. Like a Big Beat night held in a casbah.

Track two is the original of Gaza Calling, which to be honest, sounds like a completely different song. Scratching, Indian style and quite a heavy Bangarah vibe. It features a sample of Bidal, a resident of Gaza, trying to get through to the UN on the phone to ask why they are not taking action over Israeli breaches of international law.

Track three features dialogue about the history of weak people fighting their oppressor. It has become quite a divisive issue, with anyone opposed to the Israeli Apartheid being accused of antisemitism and being apologists for terrorism.  There is no justification for the actions of Hamas recently, but if you ignore the context, i e the constant expulsion of Palestinian people from their own land, by force, and expansion of Israeli settlements, you will never understand what the conflict is about. And if you do not understand the situation,  you will never find a solution

The final track, features a remix of a speech made by the late John Berger  poet and humanist. It’s a recording of him reading a letter by John Berger ( 1926 – 2017) ‘a letter from Gaza’ given a remix

Whilst the subject matter is dark and, depressing, particularly as I’m writing this as bombs rain down on Gaza, but it’s not an angry, shouty record. It is not calling for an intifada or revenge,  it just wants the outside world to understand the broader context.

And musically, its mix of styles blends nicely to create a fusion that is not quite unique,  but distinctive, stimulating and eminently listenable.

The EP is free to download, but you can weigh in if you want. Don’t be tight folks, dig deep.

And then – AND THEN!

After writing this review we thought we would have a look see at what else the band have done, and found Checkpoint Tunes – which is nothing short of astounding. So check this out as well.