Categorized | Albums

Dhafer Youssef – Abu Nawas Rhapsody

Posted on 14 October 2010 by Kavselj

I first came across Dhafer Youssef in 2006 when I heard his Album Digital Prophecy. Its very hard to remain cold and apathetic when you face something like this. Magical would be a very reasonable word to describe what is going on, when The band begins to play and it adequately summarizes the feelings that go through your gut, mind and soul. Dhafer is an Oud player and very passionate singer. He was born in Tunisia but moved to Europe to follow his musical expressions and has released 4 albums prior to the latest one Abu Nawas Rhapsody (ANR). With his discography we are sunk in eclectic fusion of traditional and modern, to the deepness of acoustic and electronic soundscape and special mixture of world and jazz music. And ANR is not much different, except maybe with the lack of electronic, but still unique and almost divine through its acoustic sincerity. This time we are faced with quartet, pianist Tigran Hamasyan, bassist Chris Jennings and drummer Mark Guiliana and Dhafer on Oud and vocals. Album with its 11 compositions is musically very well balanced and and offers beautiful artwork from Walid Zouari that follows every song on this record. It starts with ‘Sacre’. Slow and poetic. With enchanting piano and deep lyrical vocal atmosphere that turns into falsetto singing and brings the east to your ears. With interesting Arab rhythmic pattern ‘Les ondes orientales’ is a true gem. Simple Oud theme in one cycle brings unforgettable impression and slow start with world flavor turns into straight jazz madness. All the music in one song.

With slower ‘Khamasa’ and quiet solo on ‘Interl’Oud’ ‘Odd Elegy’ brings us funk. Catching theme that starts the song and truly master drumming, it stops with tender piano and slowly builds with transcendent vocal into another volcano of energy and feelings.

Its truly amazing what Dhafer does with simple melodies. ‘Hayastan dance’ and also ‘Sura’ are really not very complicated on first sight with as little as 5 tones to catch basic mean, but what is built around them, rhythmic complexity, and perfect synergy among the instruments, its what makes Youssef and this album so special. Highly Recommended.

Also if you catch him on Live concert, be prepared to be consumed in what some call almost transcendent state.

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