Like Leonardo Pavkovic of MoonJune Records, who travels through the Pacific Rim and elsewhere, searching out new musics and musicians, Garrett Baker of Flipswitch PR likewise locates any number of cool non-Western musics and music-makers. They're his specialty, and he's the guy who turned me on to the super righteous Fanfare Ciocarlia, Lord Mouse—I play those discs a LOT in the SoCal Casa de Tucker—and a number of other exotic musicians. His latest find, Dhallua Raa by Ahmed, is going to bowl over we children of the 60s, 'cause the CD sounds like a super-obscure rarity overlooked by everyone but perfectly in line with bands like Harumi, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pearls Before Swine, Tax Free, Medicine Head, Tom Paxton, the Incredible String Band, and other treasured but often damnably overlooked groups and songwriters.
Though his home is the Maldive Islands, that prevalence of Western rock and folk modes with heavy duty Middle East flavors in his music is no coincidence. Ahmed Nasheed grew up on the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and a wide palette of the great musicians we all groove to, himself a 60s cat as well, but the rairvaru mode, long poetic songs composing the Maldivine folk tradition, bit deeply into his heart and soul. There was no way he was going to scamp that part of his aesthetic drive, and so the 1990 release with his Ground Zero Effect band, Dhoni, was a groundbreaker and went over huge in the Maldives, despite an antagonistic government's best efforts to ignore the release while covertly working against it. Unfortuanely for them, fortunately for Ground Effect Zero, the release also caught on in Germany and Switzerland. In this new solo CD, some of Ahmed's rage against his government's shenanigans thuswise and many other homeland injustices comes out.
In fact, nearly every cut addresses social issues—drug victims, carbon footprints, globalisation, and so on—but you'll have to rely on the 20-page booklet's descriptive song blurbs for that because the lyrics are encanted in his native tongue. Nonethless, Ahmed's viewpoints are interesting. "Once corrupt," he avers, "always corrupt", something I'm sure politicians, priests, and businessmen don't want to hear. He then moves on to quote the Qu'ran, which tells us "Surely oppression is worse than slaughter," a subject I've devoted much thinking to lately as banking and merchant criminals wreak havoc on the world in the interests of profitmaking.
But most of Dhaalu is mellow despite all that, exceedingly listenable with endless rock and even psychedelic elements well woven into the tapestry. Fihavalu very much shows Nasheed's enamorment with George Harrison and John Lennon, slow and easy but simultaneously lightly folk-cosmic. On the other hand, Rasge has a fuzz-drenched guitar solo that would've had Mick Box (Uriah Heep) and Hari George himself paying attention to in the heyday. And that brought me to this thought: where Nasheed's Island vibe is World music to us, his Western applications are World music to his section of the globe, a nice little turnaround underscoring the perfect balance he's achieved in the disc. Like me, y'all, you're going to swear Dhaalu Raa is a timelost recovered LP unearthed by some musicologist intent on intriguing and delighting all and sundry.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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