Though Maneli Jamal's Persian influences—not to mention flamenco, folk, roots, and other ingredients—enrich a good deal of his basic compositional technique, what really caught my ear was Six in Harmony, a multi-leveled affair of simulsynched solo parts coalescing for a beautiful set of melodics counterpointed by some very subtle colorations. The Lamaj Movement, though, is the sonorous translation of the guitarist's family's sojourns through the world ('Lamaj' is 'Jamal' spelled backwards and the semantics of the title nomenclature is a clever play on words), an enclave that has nomadically been here, there, and everywhere, even to the extent of 20 different translocations in five countries inside five years time!
I suspect the best phrase for this release is 'energetically contemplative'. Within a complex cycle of fingerpicking replete with endless variations and subordinated side "conversations", the atmosphere is yet one of bemused pastorality. More than a few times, one will catch quite impressive shades of the hallowed Leo Kottke as well as any number of similar string wizards, but Jamal's voicings are his own, and the constantly alive mellifuity in his work is infectious, an environment of various sublimations not often encountered.
Jamal has won awards around the world, and his YouTube hits have gone over the million mark—CandyRat artists have a way of doing that—so the nature of his work obviously has wide appeal beyond nimble fingers and catchy opuses. Like so many of CR's artists, The Lamaj Movement is a combination of Takoma, ECM, Flying Fish, Windham Hill, and several other top shelf exemplars returning the sturm und drang of the mainstream music world back to a more classical and vastly literate turn. You could sit for hours and parse all the imagery on any of these cuts…and I suggest you do.
And Maneli is quite the artist too, as his way cool pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor illustrations throughout the liner amply demonstrate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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