Monday, December 17, 2007

Music I Liked And Didn't - 12/14/07 - 12/17/07

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HABIBIYYA: If Man But Knew CD (Sunbeam) - This is a reissue of the debut (and only) album from the Habibiya, which was originally released by Island in 1972. The group was formed by three members of the underground outfit Mighty Baby, who made an extensive journey to Morocco in 1970 which profoundly influenced them, both spiritually and musically. After returning to London, they joined forces with two additional, like-minded, multi-instrumentalists from Northern California to complete their group dedicated to creating flowing, organic, Middle-Eastern influenced music.

The set starts a bit slowly, with the first two pieces being fairly minimal and only using spare instrumentation. Beginning with the third and, perhaps, the disc’s best track “The Eye-Witness”, they apply their full sonic arsenal, combining the common instruments of modern, Western music (acoustic guitar, flute, piano, organ, viola, and so on) with more exotic instrumentation (such as bina organ, mandola, nay flute, shakuhachi, zither, and all manner of percussion) and mesmerizing vocal stylings to craft beautiful and hypnotic psychedelic ragas of the highest caliber. This CD also contains five tracks of bonus material which was intended for a second, never released LP. They are similar in nature, although they are, obviously, less fully developed and also tend to lean slightly towards the more modern, Western spectrum of sound. Still, “Another Ode” is another very authentic sounding psych raga and “Bird in God's Garden”, while clearly exemplifying more modern, Western forms, is simply too damn cool, with its droning keyboard washes and primal percussion (which reminded this listener of underground legends the Silver Apples!), to overlook. Although “raga rock” reissues are quite in vogue of late, “If Man But Knew” by the Habibiyya is clearly one of the most authentic sounding and best of the class!

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Running Count For The Year

Adds 115/86%

Did Not Add 18/14%

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