Any conversation regarding techno’s future needs to include the name of Rabih Beaini, best
known for his work under the Ra.H and Morphosis aliases. As Morphosis, Beaini recently released
the opus What Have We Learned, a sprawling album of tech-house both exuberant and
meditative, inspired by ’70s progressive and psychedelic music as much as the single-minded
minimalism of Omar S or Ricardo Villalobos. Morphosis seems in tune with music on a deeper
level than your average club DJ, existing in a world where the brand-new excitement of a
Rinse.FM podcast peacefully co-exists with Bitches’ Brew. Now working with Damo Suzuki
in a live setting, Morphosis is pushing techno into areas previously unexplored, with results that
can’t be anything less than great. And like any decent musical shaman, his goodwill extended
from the sounds on the vinyl to his friendly interaction with me below.

How and when did you start making music under the name Morphosis?
I first started to make music in ’99. I was already DJing for years, but music making was a
bit of an arrival point for me, not to make music for people to dance to, but just to express
what was my inspiration.
My first record came out in ’99, on a local label in Italy, limited copies… it was a collage of
sound samples from field recordings and drum patterns. At the time, my sound was maybe
more progressive and dark, but it worked pretty well, at least for me. After a couple of 12″s,
I started to shape my sound, and gave birth to Morphine Records in 2005 together with Stefano
Ksoul who gave me major help with the concept.

Do you feel like your sound has gotten less dark over the years? What attracts you
to dark-sounding music?

I don’t have a proper answer to why I am attracted to dark sounds. This is the way I see
music, honestly… I love haunting sounds and loops. I am totally attracted to oriental music,
from Indian traditional and trancy music to the middle-eastern raw and original pieces… I
guess this gives the shape to what I come out with while I produce and play. Of course
there is no rule, but generally I like this side of music more.

Are there any artists, or albums that you’d consider “dark” that you particularly enjoy?
I don’t consider music I like as dark, even if many do consider it to be. I am more attracted
to minor scales generally, spiritual and cosmic music, like Miles Davis or John Coltrane, psychedelic
like Jimi Hendrix and the whole progressive jazz scene, African music and afro-oriented one. I
am particularly attracted to traditional and popular music, most of them recorded at celebrations
and funerals… I also like early electronica and krautrock. Generally emotional music, which is
probably dark in its conception.

You are Lebanese, correct? What is the cultural atmosphere there like for techno
and electronic music?

I must admit, I got my real electronic inspiration in Europe, after I moved to Italy in 1996,
where I lived untill a few months ago, and with which I am still in frequent contact. I think
Lebanon is more concentrated on the evolution of the local sound, which is pretty interesting.
There is a wide electronic scene nowadays in Lebanon, many DJs that play mainstream
electronic stuff, and some elite people who are more into experimental and electroacoustic
stuff, but I guess there is a lack of a more underground driven house and techno scene.

The new album is called What Have We Learned, so I have to ask… what
have we learned?

Lots of things, and much more to learn yet. Things from life, experiences, people and music.
The album is more a marker point for my residency in Europe, a resume of a long period of life
in which my experience and knowledge has been forged and developed. It’s a story I tell, but
I might be the only one who knows the exact details. You got the music.

The music on What Have We Learned seems to be composed organically in a way, almost
reminding me of Can or Amon Düül in the loose structures that move along the rhythm…
were any progressive German artists an inspiration to you?

Many of them, but not exclusively. I think the basic definition of krautrock and progressive
German music is the mixture of lots of things, and that period was maybe the richest of them
all, the discovery of sound synthesis, the development of musical instruments, the use of all
this together with traditional and popular instruments. Synthesizers are the real revolution in
music, and this has shaped so many genres and created many others. I just follow the original
path, which leads me to a rich and uncontaminated way of composition. I am just trying to live,
musically, in that era I never witnessed, on my own way, and with my own possibilities.

You also produce music under the moniker Ra.H – how do you differentiate between
the two projects? Are their sounds inherently different?

The Ra.H moniker was meant to be the more musical and free one. More personnal and
conceptual. But it was inevitable that this appears as well in the productions under Morphosis,
which was the more techno and dancefloor-driven one. I can say the difference is very slight,
even if it actually exists.

Will there be another Ra.H record, or are you focusing on Morphosis now?
Next will be Ra.H’s turn. Some material is ready, and I am planning new releases on Morphine,
which will be communicated very soon.

How would you describe the upcoming Ra.H material?
It’s more experimental maybe, even more into machines and electroacoustic mixture with
electronica and soul, a more band approach to homemade music. But it’s not a rule, I like to
stay free in my music as much as I keep it related to its followers. I try to deliver what
people want, but also make them discover a different side of it. I think the people who buy
and listen to my records are prepared people, they really know about music, but they seek
for more; I try to deliver this “more” when possible.

I understand you also have an interesting collaboration in the works, what can you
tell me about it?

You mean with Damo Suzuki?

Well it happened very naturally. We set a date in Hamburg last March, and I got in touch
with him to see if he was up for a collaboration. I was surprised to know he was so open for
new things; I knew he was touring the world playing with local carriers, mainly rock and
progressive bands. I was curious to see what would come out from my sounds and his vocal
improvs. We made it to the Prinzenbar, a tiny but amazing venue in Hamburg, and we dropped
a totally improvised and experimental show. I must say I felt totally free on stage, as never
before. And the result was maybe one of my best performances as a musician. Freedom at its
highest levels, with a mixed crowd from the electronica diggers and DJs to the original
krautrockers of Hamburg, being a fortress for the German progressive sound. I am working on
pubblishing some of the recordings we did that night, hopefully soon, and we are already
planning for a tour in the next few months.

How intimidating was it to work with Suzuki? Do you have any plans to go into
the studio with him?

To be honest, Damo Suzuki, since the very first minute, gave a very relaxed and spiritual
impact. I was very pleased to discover how much of a low-profile, easy-going man he is. He
remains a purist, he sells his own merchandise and CDs at the venues, he talks and hangs out
with people very openly, and has a very positive energy with the other musicians and the
crowd. I never had any intimidating moments with him, everything was pretty natural. But he
is a stage dropper, no studio. At least that’s what he normally does. He had a really good feeling
to what I did on stage with him and he was clearly surprised and positive on it. My purpose is
not to lock him in a studio and make tunes. The live vibe is much more important for him and
that’s what counts for me too.

Is there any political aspect to your music? Is that any concern of yours?
Every step you make, in your awareness and own mind, follows a political path. I try to keep
away from the obvious remarks for a more mature approach to the musical world surrounding
me, but the political aspect remains and always has a more social interest. Which doesn’t mean
I follow a defined political party or concept, maybe it’s a more global human struggle that is
interesting and attractive to me. Awareness is my big concern.

What have you been listening to lately? Anything you’d really recommend, for
someone who enjoys your music?

Well definitely the new Sun City Girls Gum Arabic is an amazing album on the Annihhaya
label, psychedelic and experimental folk merged with early tape recordings. Jemaa El Fna album
on Sublime Frequencies, some wild field recordings from the Marakesh week of the dead festivities.
The Paris Tapes double CD from Sun Ra, besides the LP, it has ten more tracks and is definitely
a heavy play. The mighty Keith Fullerton Whitman’s EP Disingenuity on Pan and the What
album by Emeralds.