Mawwal — High Hills in the Creaving Road
(Ancient Records no#, 2012, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01It seems like just yesterday that I was reviewing Mawwal's 2011 release Sight Up and wondering what they could do to top that excellent disc, but they have. As evolution goes, the distance between that album and High Hills... is not as far as from their predecessors Black Flies and This Is All There Is, There Is No Other Place (both 2007), but Mawwal's world-fusion vision is still developing and moving forward, finding new ground to travel. The core of the band is leader Jim Matus (laouto, laoutar, baricello and vocals), Joe O'Brien (bass, fretless bass), Jill O'Brien (vocals) and Tony Vacca (balafon, percussion), plus a number of additional players contributing violin, bansuri flute, drums, dumbek, riq, tablas, kalimba, percussion and more, track depending. Latvian vocalist Laila Salins sings on five cuts, and Brand X bassist Percy Jones plays fretless bass on one. On one hand, their music mines the rich Middle Eastern and North African traditional sounds, while the other hand adds the driving grooves and power of rock and a touch of jazz, making for one intoxicating potion. Unlike artists who have approached similar world fusion from the jazz side (Embryo, Don Cherry, Oriental Wind, and others), Mawwal's approach is heavy and forceful, densely imbibed with bass grooves and percussion, and more at home within an overall rock parlance. All taken, theirs is an adventurous and visionary sound that's easy to savor. Another solid recommendation.
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more