Sunday, January 11, 2009

In review--timeless Sufi in the Sand

 Missing cover image

El Tanbura
Between the Desert And The Sea
World Village

The ancient Simsimiyya (Egyptian harp) possesses mysterious origins. According to the liner notes for Between The Desert And The Sea, the harp either derived from the shell of an unfortunate turtle that swum too far up river or it derived from mesmerizing sirens. Its sound is mesmerizing especially when backed by hearty call and response vocals and polyrhythmic traditional percussion.

El Tanbura is a collective of veteran Egyptian master musicians (harp players), philosophers, singers and fishermen. It also contains multi-generations of musicians whose music revolves around Sufi verses and folk melodies. And what I love most about this recording is its acoustic instruments. There are no programmed drums edging their way into traditional music, nor have the edges of this stunning music been polished for mass appeal. I find the songs on Between The Desert And The Sea compelling and magical.

This ensemble has been around for nearly 20 years just hovering beneath the world music industry radar. The musicians are both retrieving an almost extinct tradition and introducing music audiences to this versatile Egyptian harp that can perform exorcising rituals, conjure up benevolent spirits, and contribute its siren songs to hungry ears.

I recommend this recording for those of you seeking a truly exotic experience. (I am speaking for people from the West).


No comments:

Post a Comment