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oud master, December 26, 2000

ECM Touchstones: Conte de l'Incroyable Amour
Anouar Brahem is a Tunisian who is one of the leading present exponents of the oud, a lute-like stringed instrument. Brahem's music is anything but 'exponent'-sounding, however--he makes regular excursions into the world of jazz and crossover (a project of some years back with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek was wonderful), along with recording pieces with a more traditional sound. This cd is langorous and exotic-sounding with a good bit of a jazz feel thrown in for good measure; it is mostly quiet, introspective and wandering (even ambient), with occasional explosions of what might be termed "rhythmic urgency." It frankly takes a bit of getting used to, but if you like unpretentious, intimate music and can get into this particular blend of North African instrumentation (oud, clarinet, nai flute, and bendir and darbouka), you may well find it very attractive.

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Topic Title Summary Views
Anouar Brahem is a Tunisian who is one of the leading present exponents of the oud, a lute-like stringed instrument. Brahem's music is anything but 'exponent'-sounding, however--he makes regular excursions into the world of jazz and crossover (a project of some years back with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek was wonderful), along with recording pieces with a more traditional sound. This cd is langorous and exotic-sounding with a good bit of a jazz feel thrown in for good measure; it is mostly quiet, introspective and wandering (even ambient), with occasional explosions of what might be termed "rhythmic urgency." It frankly takes a bit of getting used to, but if you like unpretentious, intimate music and can get into this particular blend of North African instrumentation (oud, clarinet, nai flute, and bendir and darbouka), you may well find it very attractive.
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Describing music is not a grateful task- one reason for skipping it in my review. However much you might know about the instrumentation, the measures, the chord changes, it'll avail you nothing until you've listened to it for yourself. In the case of Anouar Brahem's "Conte de l'incroyable amour", the listening experience is more than rewarding. The seemingly minimalistic music grips you tight when you let yourself get lost in it. This grip is in no way aggressive, it rather resembles the passionate grip of a lover. When you have the music as a background while going about your business , you won't wish for a better companion. It's not just sound in your ears- it's rather vibrations of love flowing from your speakers.
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What you will hear in this album is magic solitude. Is silence. Brahem explores the mystical sounds rooted deep inside us, and only giving these his most familiar form, through his oud. This music is born for artists, for sensitive creative people. For rare moments of true happines.
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