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.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
David Gilmour - Remember That Night - Live at the Royal Albert Hall – For those living under a rock, David Gilmour has recently completed a world tour in support of his 2006 solo album, On an Island, which this double DVD set documents and commemorates. Disk one... (2008) » Read more