El Naan: Codigo de Barros (ARC)

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El Naan: La Atalaya/The Watchtower
El Naan: Codigo de Barros (ARC)

While the elements of melody and rhythm might be ancient, and the lyrics (outlined in English in the booklet) contain timeless stories of a world being rapidly left behind, this is no journey into the past.

It may have old bones but the heart is strong and contemporary.

With tough and passioned voices, traditional instruments in the same space as electric guitar and tenor sax, these songs sound like a long and occasionally reflective night at the bottom of a bottle in some countryside cantina on the Iberian Peninsula.

And in the company of intelligent and deeply schooled locals who are intuitive musicologists.

The album's title involves sly wordplay (change one letter and the Spanish for “barcode” becomes “mudcode”, as seen on the cover), so this is an engaging collection of original songs framed within the traditions of Spain at the intersection of Jewish, Celtic and Arabian music.

Vigorous 21st century folk with a weatherbeaten spirit, intestinal fortitude and a sensually spiritual dimension, witnessed by the lengthy musical setting of the poetic quatrains of Omar Khayyam on the closing track.

Very much worth checking out.

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