Maneli Jamal had lived in four countries and moved 20 times by the time he reached the tender age of 18. What was learned along the way shows in the way he mixes musical styles—folk, flamenco, classical, Persian, minimal serial, etc.—in complicated percussive Kottkean / CandyRat-ian work, extremely refreshing for its brightness, wide open spaces, and dizzying patterns. At the moment, the fusion spotlight is once again on exotic guitar play, and Jamal is among its high-water technicians.
All the cuts on this CD are just him, instrumentals, but you'll swear he has accompaniment. T'ain't so, and that's just one part of The Zuir Movement's appeal. Playing an acoustic 6-string, the guy wrings more out of that axe than a honey-hive has bees, and the imagery isn't inapt. Often, notes swirl and swarm, flying like freed spirits caught by a sheer lust for life and the sun, dancing through zephyrs and eddies of balmy summer days. However, don't expect only density and interlocking tapestries, as Jamal counterpoints beautifully, not just in ballads materials like Mov.3 - Vasat, flanking itself against whirlwinds before and after, but also within the tsunamis themselves, interjecting oases of relative calm and varied flora.
As if that weren't sufficient, the guy produced, recorded, and mixed the music…then did the liner layouts and artwork! The boardwork is superb, resulting in a sonically perfect atmosphere, but Zuir is visually an understatedly elegant piece of art. The sole cartooned (actually a French clear-line or Japanese ukiyo-e informed style) self-figure is an excellent piece of work, washed by muted background colors. Jamal's a quadruple threat: technician, composer, player, and graphic artist, and I hope he never gives up the graphic side. That one drawing speaks volumes about his command.
Listen to this release when you're poring over Kottke, Georgiou, CandyRat, or Shimabukoro discs because it's of an ilk with those nonpareils. Maneli obviously disciplined himself over thousands of hours to arrive at a sound that would provoke admiration even from Carnatic musicians. Persian music is actually quite similar to it and sadly neglected in this country (um, maybe because the Bush family and the fellow conservative bastards who coup d'etated their way into the White House are still busy demonizing and plundering the very cultures in the mid-East that birthed us) and Maneli Jamal is a modern ambassador of the mode, globalized and refurbished.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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