A fine review posted from acclaimed Prog Archives!
“Have you ever wandered around the city at night, and suddenly had a taxi drive by you with wide open windows – attacking you with strange Arabian music flowing right into the streets? Whenever I put this album on, that’s what I imagine – that’s where my thoughts go. To those wonderful, kind, proud and hard working taxi drivers who talk like machine guns and do their very best to introduce you to the music of their homeland. I’ve had countless of fares going home from a night out on the town, maybe not the most sober dude, but having a terrific time with my newly found friend for the hour – bobbing my head back and forth to some enchanting desert cobra music.
Just like the previous review I did, this one also takes its inspiration from far far away – far away from the wet and windy Swedish north, juggling all kinds of Arabian, African and Persian flavours whilst still infusing everything with something that I’ll get back to a little later. -And yes I’m continuing on my Swedish diet here. My neighbours are worth it trust me on this.
The guy behind this experiment is named Peter Lindahl. The reason I’m calling this an experiment is that nobody – and I mean nobody had attempted to immerse themselves completely in this kind of music before – and then releasing it like a proper album for the casual music fan in Scandinavia – well at least not a native white guy! I’m sure there are many people from all around the world who have been successful in getting albums printed in Scandinavia on the basis of a waiting public – no doubt, but everyone featured on this outing is from Sweden. No introduced spices, and still you’d be hard pressed to put your finger on anything sounding out of place in regards to authentic Arabian or Persian music. It all comes across like revamped Middle-Eastern music gently streaming out of your local taxi cab.
Lindahl plays a wide variety of instruments, and maybe that is something of an understatement on my behalf, because this dude is up there with Mike Oldfield. Wow! Let me just run you through what he gets his filthy hands on through this highly infatuating musical caravan: Mellotron, Fender Statocaster, Saz, Zither, Spanish, western & twelvestring guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Santoor, Piano, Melodion (modified ockarina), Viola de gamba, Baroque travérs-flute, Kena, Soprano & Alto recorders, Daf, Darbouka, Tamboura, Various percussion, Synthesizers, Samplers, Soundeffects & Programming, Chorus, Vocals and Recitation. Pheewi! Everything he touches sounds well versed and true, and this is coming from a guy who grew up with loads of friends from places such as Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia. One of my best friends who incidentally also turned me onto the drums was from Senegal – he taught me a great deal about this kind of music – the different tonalities it sported as opposed to those beats we are taught here in the cold North. And this album still sounds very much in tune with what the music down there is all about – it’s just trying to do something different here. Trying to be ethereal and anti-grounded, even if the instruments are terrifyingly wooden in textures and heavily rooted in the soil. It takes a brilliant musician to change the feel of an instrument – making the drums fly instead of what they usually are – earth bound and rustic.
What makes this album pop and stand out – and ultimately also crosses the line into something the ordinary prog head might enjoy, is the way everything is gift wrapped here. Let me tell you about the paper here, because that’s what caught my attention almost immediately. Clean ethereal flutes handled with care sounding like a mish mash of dolphin song and pan flute. Abstract soundscaping synths slowly forming underneath everything like had the earth turned into a sonic version of coca cola. Soulful weeping electric guitar interludes. Beautiful lingering violin sections with nods toward the greener pastures of Ireland – maybe spliced up with a tiny dash of doom. Other times the music turns evil psychedelic – approaching early Floyd tracks like Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun – reaching out of its own sarcophagus with rotting arms grabbing a hold of you with Egyptian flare and seduction. Then in the heat of the moment we are treated to a female voice stepping out of the pyramid with soaring whispers – tales of flight and the golden Horus.
This is as close as you’ll ever get to the real deal, but then again those treacherous flickering pulsating synths do take you places far away from your everyday Nile swim. There are so much going on in terms of mixing different cultures here, but the overall ambiance of Middle-Eastern, African, Arabian instrumentation all mixed together with psychedelic oscillations and folk twists from the North – still manages to sound together. One could easily imagine this experiment winding up as a dish with far too many ingredients, and personally I must say that I do tend to go for the naive and straight forward in terms of instrumentation, but here the end product is just tantalizingly fantastic. The trips down to Congo, the Nile delta and pyramids all through the 3 or 4 minutes of one single track, is to me worth the prize of admition alone. So if you’re thirsty for the world and all of it’s bountiful fruits, tapestries and alluring rhythms, you can go there without a passport just by purchasing this little remarkable gem.”