Exposé Online banner

Garaj Mahal — More Mr Nice Guy
(Harmonized, 2010, CD)

Garaj Mahal & Fareed Haque — Discovery
(Moog Music 789106, 2009, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2011-06-01

More Mr Nice Guy Cover artDiscovery Cover art

Garaj Mahal takes some of the classic elements of 70s fusion and makes them work in today’s musical climate. While the music is sometimes on the funky side of rhythm, the jazz feel always wins out; there are also elements of world music and electronics. Guitarist Fareed Haque is half Pakistani and half Chilean, and has lived all around the world absorbing musical influences; he’s also an accomplished Classical guitarist, with several recordings in that field on his resume. Given his talents and credentials, he doesn’t surround himself with second-rate players, and Kai Eckhardt (bass), Eric Levy (keys) and Sean Rickman (drums) certainly fit right in, with the kind of casual virtuosity that works perfectly for this kind of music. It’s much more “feel” than “flash.” Probably my favorite track between these two is “Witch Doctor,” the opener of More Mr. Nice Guy, with its Indian feel and shifting time signatures. It’s followed by a brief electronic filler and then a track that’s a little like what Weather Report might have sounded like in 1975 if they’d had guitar instead of sax, with electric piano, wobbly synths and a great bass solo. Haque’s playing is impressive, whether he’s going for clean classic jazz tones, folky acoustic, crunchy distortion, or the farthest reaches of signal modification. There are even a couple of vocal tunes which, although they aren’t my favorite parts of the CD, feature the drummer’s soulful singing.

Discovery is a bit different, as it’s designed to feature the Moog guitar. There are several tracks that sound much like the band’s other material, but there are also a couple of guitar-only tracks (one improvisation and one Classical arrangement); in addition, there are four tracks assembled by Levy from individual sounds, phrases and so on from the others. The fact that these don’t stand out too much from the others is testament to both their basic diversity and Levy’s editing skill. Given how the keyboards and Moog guitar mix, it’s often difficult to identify what’s what. But it’s all good — definitely a band worth checking out.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 39, 2010 releases, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Fareed Haque, Garaj Mahal

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ring of Myth - Weeds – Ring of Myth is not the only band charting a course that combines old-school progressive with elements of metal and fusion, but their take on it is interesting enough to catch my attention. The...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues