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Mawwal: Sight Up

Mawwal is a project fronted by world musician extraordinaire Jim Matus. Their third album Sight Up is a feast for the ears for anyone interested in world music. Matus plays laoutar and sings on all tracks and is helped out by no less than sixteen musicians. These are all fine players and this is reflected in the music.

Matus is an excellent laoutar player and it should come as no surprise the instrument is featured heavily on all eight tracks. He has a great sense of flow and rhythm and his melodies really shine throughout. The music is a melding of Middle Eastern, Asian and Eastern European themes. In other words, this is a world fusion album and it is one of the best I have heard. And the best part is, for me at least, are the exceptional melodies sprinkled over the entire album, like a layer of goodness just waiting to be absorbed.

The album begins with "Bloom Forest", a melodic slice of acoustics with an Eastern bent at the start before heading into a more folk-like direction. The laoutar really shines here.

"Jajouka Between the Mountains" has Eastern, African and even Latin elements, especially the trumpet of Stephen Haynes.

On the intriguing "Fuu Duu/Voodoo Chile", African and Middle Eastern themes clash head on creating a wonderfully exotic vibe. The duet vocals of Matus and Jill O'Brien are quite nice and give the track an Arabic feel.

And while all the songs are good, there are two tracks that stand a little taller than the rest. "Happy On Your Feet Go" with its Indian vibe and Jay Gandhi's stellar flute and "Rag Yamen", the album's last song featuring more great flute and the violin of Vicky Richards adding just a hint of psychedelia. I should also mention the outstanding violin contribution of Rohan Gregory who adds some colourful brush strokes to the folky "Sight Up/Vetettem Violat" and the folk ballad "Early In The Morning" giving the latter an overall forlorn, melancholic sound.

World/fusion/folk fans take notice; Jim Matus and his band has offered us a richly diverse and exotic album and it sounds great too. Released on Ancient Records.

Track Listing:
1. Bloom Forest (5:24)
2. Jajouka Between the Mountains (4:12)
3. Fuu Duu/Voodoo Chile (6:22)
4. Sight Up/Vetettem Violat (5:17)
5. I Mute the Burning River (6:47)
6. Happy On Your Feet Go (5:19)
7. Early In The Morning (5:24)
8. Rag Yamen (5:56)

Added: October 12th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 2524
Language: english

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