|My Clematis running wild.|
Thursday morning: I was up and about quite early today. I ventured out into my garden to feed my fishes and my feathered friends. The clematis looks amazing, in full bloom and climbing all over my fence and my little shed. The camellias have got quite a few flowers on them as well. I potted those sunflowers far too early though. I put them out on my bench to toughen them up, but I can’t risk planting them yet because of the fear of frost. After I had done the washing up and a couple of other bits of housework that I’ve neglected lately, I sat in the kitchen to give full attention to my new album which was recommended to me by a friend of mine.
It is called Birds Requiem by Dhafer Youssef. He was born in a small fishing village in Tunisia in 1967 and moved to Europe in 1990 to pursue a career in Jazz. He is a singer and Oud player. I didn’t know what an Oud was, so I looked it up. It is a short-necked stringed instrument very similar to a lute. This album was recorded in Gothenburg Sweden & Istanbul in 2013. I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would be mainly North African type instruments but apart from the Oud and the Kanun (A Kanun is a stringed instrument, a bit like a zither or a psaltery) there are clarinets, trumpets, electric guitars, electronics, piano, double bass and drums. Four of the tracks are part of a suite called Birds Requiem. I must say the vocals of Dhafer Youssef are quite astounding, he can hold a note for an eternity.
The voice is used as a major instrument to stunning effect. I love the piano playing of Kristjan Randalu particularly on track 2 called Sweet Blasphemy. Some tracks such as Blending Souls And Shades I would describe as jazz-rock. While I was listening to the music, I was aware of the birds singing in my garden. It wasn’t a distraction, I liked it, they seemed to complement the music. The music was about birds after all. Track 5 was called Whira and is an elegy for Dhafer’s mother. I loved the delicate double bass playing. The intro to Track 7 called 39th Gulay really rocked out. That track is dedicated to the city of Istanbul where east meets west, and this album certainly does that as well. Seudah is dedicated to Jon Hassell who is a trumpet player influenced by Miles Davis. He is also influenced by minimalism & World Music. Jon Hassell has worked with Terry Riley whose Rainbow In Curved Air I bought last year. That is all further evidence for everything being connected as I said recently.
I also enjoyed track 10 which is called Ascetic Journey. As you know Asceticism is a journey towards spiritual transformation, where the simple is sufficient and the bliss is within. This album proves that is true on many tracks. In fact, some parts of the album reminded me of the Tony Scott album for Zen Meditation that I was listening to recently, where less is more, and you can enjoy the silences between the notes as much as the music itself. Silence becomes an art form. The final track Whirling Birds Ceremony I had heard once before on YouTube and I liked it so much I decided to buy the album. If you scroll down you can listen to it and judge for yourself. I think you will agree that it is brilliant.