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Echos du Paradis

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  • A nice overview of the various aspects of Sufi music throughout the world. While music is generally frowned upon by the Islamic orthodoxy, Sufism embraces it thoroughly as a means to come nearer to God. Here, representatives of the art from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asian subcontinent are all presented in a relatively coherent form. The two-disc album starts out with a few bits from the Middle East (Iran and Syria), primarily showcasing the classical dastgah systems. It then moves into central Asian territory, with tracks from Tajikstan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, before moving back to the stunning syncretic Gnawa ritual of Morocco and the Turkish saz master Ashik Muslum Sumbul. The first disc finishes off with a pair of tracks from the Pakistan area, using the great mountain of a man Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as the finale piece of the disc. The second disc begins with a return to Turkish music, this time with a more dramatic overture in the tekbir style which makes use of a melody said to have been known in the time of Mohammed. Two tracks later, an Egyptian artist makes use of the same melody. After another romp through Iranian territory with the great Ostad Elahi, the disc moves through a female artist from Pakistan and one of the (relatively) fewer Sufi artists from sub-Saharan Africa in Musa Dieng Kala. The album returns to a Turkish master again then, followed by a pair of works from a Zikr ceremony in the Kurdish areas between a number of nations. Finally, a Baluchi work (also from a group between a number of nations) appears, and a piece from the Pakistani Sabri Brothers finishes off the double album. The music ranges through a number of different styles within the basic Sufi frameset, from the harmonium-laden work of the Sabris to the qaraqeb-based rhythms of the Gnawa brotherhood. In some sense, this wide breadth may perhaps make for an incoherent body of work for the average listener, but those who hear it may begin to note many interesting links between the cultures represented by the album and united in various degrees of Sufism. ~ Adam Greenberg
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