Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stephen Micus, Nomad Songs

Stephen Micus comes to us with some grooving and reflective pan-ethnic music that he built up track-by-track, playing effectively a diverse mix of world instruments on this, his 21st album, Nomad Songs (ECM 2409).

Notable and very present on this one is his skillful, soulful playing of the Moroccan Gnawa bass lute known as the genbri. For those where the genbri is featured there are powerful bass riffs and improvisations. As always he plays a multitude of instruments including guitar, ndingo, suling flute, nay oboe, rewab and rabab fiddle. He also sings effectively and appropriately when the spirit moves him.

This is not new age music. It is a genuine synthesis of world traditions with a strong sense of how compositionally and instrumentally to pull it together in ways that end up sounding very much in the ECM open mode.

I won't try to give a cut-by-cut description of the music. Stephen Micus stands out as his very own stylist, in spite of the huge number of traditions and instruments he embodies. As the title suggests, this music has some of the desert sand, the heat and the motion of a traversal across open spaces to find a good stopping-place.

It succeeds and does so with a deliberation and a personal touch which is inimitably Micusian. Definitely recommended!

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