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  • Archives
     

    Open Strings: Early Virtuoso Recordings From The Middle East [coll] – [Honest Jon’s]

    Sometimes you go to the Screaming Dune, sometimes you settle for
    the Screaming Dune to come to you? Packaging art may be stark with
    wood-cuts in black and white, but borders are definitely blurred
    between East/West and Old/Net. Explorations in string theory and
    improvisations of tar, guitar, oud, kamancheh, banjo abound.
    Generally the string alone is the thing, although “Surfin’ UAE”
    has a little drummer slapping that track’s Dick-Dale-dies-in-the-desert
    vibe and a few others have some light accompaniment The first two
    (of four!) lps revive recordings from the early 1900’s out of the
    EMI catacombs sources mostly from Turkey, but some from Armenia,
    Egypt, Syria and Persia before asking to be called Iran. The latter
    two lps are responses from current musicians. The album patently
    comes with no information, if you would like more especially with a
    twist of historicist’s bitter, check out Tony Klein’s research at
    http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/o_string.htm
    A word about that, while we at KFJC get the idea of “their earlier
    stuff is better” applying that wholesale to planet Earth is like
    a purist refusing to breathe air that isn’t as fresh as it was
    100 years ago. Anyways, for KFJC DJ’s and listeners being drawn
    in by a killer Sir Richard Bishop cut (recorded with your ear
    inside his fingertips) or by the surging modified-banjo on “Emel”
    by Paul Metzger and then digging Sami Chawa’s hypnotizing
    “Taxim Nahawand Wahda” or proto-rock moves (that big slide up
    and down the neck) on “Erabi fil Shara” makes my world better.
    The very first track “Homayoun” by Abdul Hussein Khan Shahnazi
    sounds almost like an early electric, kind of a metal string on
    metal buzz, starting with some fifth half chords that aren’t far
    off the Black Sabbath songbook before spinning into improv. Some
    gruff vocals or stern commands to his instrument show up on
    Shahnazi’s other contribution “Mavaraounnahr.” The latter modern
    recordings are evidently a response to their ancestors, while I’m
    not sure where the slide blues of Charlie Parr traveled from, the
    Balki-Oglu’s “Aydin Oyun Havassi” resonates with Michael (Vibracathedral
    Orchestra) Flower’s shimmering “Lake of Fire” or Bruce (Savage
    Republic) Licher’s “Mesopotamia” (the latter possibly by way of
    Roy Montgomery’s New Zealand). Some of the Taxim numbers seem to
    drip solo notes at time and let the silence fill between them before
    the more ornate playing takes over, something that connects many of
    the old and new works here. Similarly many pieces find the musician
    inflecting the same note on the neck versus the next open string in
    accelerated moments. Makes me want to believe in Heaven/Jannah where
    all involved here could have one Hell/Jahannam of a jam.

    -Thurston Hunger

  • Reviewed by Thurston Hunger on March 5, 2014 at 6:32 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,A Library
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