Mawwal — Sight Up
(Ancient Records no#, 2011, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01Mawwal, on their third release, continue the refinement of their fusion of traditional world elements with the power of the rock idiom on these eight new studio tracks. Band leader Jim Matus (laouto, laoutar, vocals) pulls Middle-Eastern, African, and Indian sounds into the robust and heady mixture, mostly either by way of his original compositions, or tasteful arrangements of traditional pieces. He is joined by a largecrew of regulars and special guests on fretted and fretless bass, balafon, djembe, dumbec, riq, violin, tablas, bansuri flute, frame drum, kalimba, shakers and more, plus several powerful male and female vocalists. Matus' newest instrument, the laoutar, is a custom made acoustic/electric altered mandocello, and together with the basses and heavy world percussive elements and complex vocal arrangements gives much of the music here its unique character. There's not a lot of other music out there to compare this to; Azigza hinted at this but was far more gypsy and violin oriented, but certainly those who enjoyed their music will find Sight Up to be to their liking. A rearrangement of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" in the Mawwal style is an instantly recognizable point of reference, but every one of the eight tracks here comes highly recommended.
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