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.
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more