Edward Powell's latest (three earlier discs can be caught here, here, and here) was intended as a series of duets between him and Mohammed Antar, a sightless ney instrumentalist devoted to preserving the mid-Easterm maqqam tradition, one of the very few people in the world so dedicated. Unfortunately, as is often the case with such transcontinental projects, one thing after another occurred, and only four songs resulted, all of them presented here along with four more compositions from Powell's back catalogue of unpublished materials intended for earlier releases.
Ed plays ragmakamtars, afrobass, sape-saz, fretless guitar, sitar, oud, acoustic guitar, and fretless e-bass, but you have to see the ragmakamtar to believe it, one of several of his own inventions and refinements as well as one of the most unique stringed instruments around, a double-necked combination of oud, sarod, and fretless acoustic guitar (trip over to www.edwardpowell.com, click the 'Instruments' entry and be prepared for a few surprises). Along with Kevin Kastning, this gent does not sit still and is constantly searching for that famous lost chord in the coolest places.
The music here is a combination of instrumental mid-Eastern modes with jam, blues, and rock elements but very heavily accented toward arabesque, carnatic, maqqam, and other indigenous styles. All come together clearly in Night Owl but are elsewhere evident to greater or lesser degree. As with Oregon and other of the more serious world fusion units, it's frequently difficult to tell where the traditional leaves off ('cause, in those cultures, jamming and improv were common, indeed often demanded) and the modern begins, so sympathetic is one to the other. Point in illustration: as I was listening to the CD, a buddy walked in, someone not normally a world music fan, caught the blues undercurrent of a couple cuts, and said "Whoa! Who is that?" It's that kind of music.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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