Graham Reid | | <1 min read
This great interpreter of Arabic music has made a number of appearances at Elsewhere for her sinuous voice and often remarkable songs. She could hold her own with TransGobal Undergrounds in the electronica-beat-driven world music end of the spectrum but her more traditional albums were much more persuasive.
This time out she goes for a broad conceptual piece with a large Turkish ensemble which brings together traditional songs, a version of Nick Drake's River Man which slides in seamlessly other than the noticeable feature of it being mostly in English, some originals and a version of Francoise Hardy's La Nuit est sur la Ville.
Annoyingly however there are also spoken word interpolations (by various English-speaking "philosophers?") and interludes.
Musically this is as interesting as ever -- the chief player is string arranger and co-writer Samy Bishai -- and the discreet electronic touches (staccato chatter in Batkillam) act as a neat counterpoint to the swooning strings and Atlas' syrup-like melodic slides.
But with a few exceptions not much here really grips and those interludes ("show how a resource-based economy proposes direct solutions") sit at strange odds with the music. Sort of a concept album, but one with a very unclear agenda?