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Soundohm

Various

Open Strings: Early Virtuoso Recordings From The Middle East

Label: Honest Jon's

Format: CDx2

Out of stock

'Superbly stylish in conception and packaging, it shows that small independent labels can still be an inspirational force' (Daily Telegraph); 'definitive and essential' (Brainwashed); 'stunning in its historical interest and musicianship' (Boston Phoenix); 'phenomenal and mesmerizing' (Dusted); 'one of the major phonographic salvage operations of our time' (The Wire). 'The archival finds are, without exception, phenomenal – and mesmerizing. The oud, the santour and spike fiddle dominate. There are other instruments, but without a little more familiarity with the region’s music traditions (of which three – Arabic,Turkish and Persian – are represented here), these are difficult to accurately identify. Honest Jon’s has intentionally foregone providing any notes, instead letting the listener engage directly with the pieces, all of them improvisational performances lasting about three minutes. 'The instrumental command on these performances simply dazzles. Blindingly fast runs through the high register get tempered with stretches of silence and a preternatural understanding of fluctuating tempos. Melodic inventiveness never fails to heighten the drama, making one want to follow each note of each piece, so as not to miss a detail. Nechat Bey, with five tracks here, is notable for his versatility, appearing on oud as well as spike fiddle. Adul Hussein Khan Shanazi, with three tracks, brings shape to even the fastest, densest passages. Starting with a simple passage of chording, his Mavaraounnahr builds into a complex weave of ecstatic chording and intricate rolls. 'At times, especially on the spike fiddle tunes from Sami Chawa as well as Mehmet and Ahmet Balki-Oglu, the nearly 90-year-old recordings predict all sorts of modern musical vocabulary, much of what we might consider experimental now. Chawa posits, in brief flashes, a particularly abrasive take on free improvisation, while the latter duo prefigure the current obsession with scraping, wavering drone.' Dusted
Details
Cat. number: HJRCD39
Year: 2009
Genre: Folk