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Ibrahim, Aziz: Rusholme Rock

It's not uncommon for musicians of rock bands to issue their own albums under their own moniker (in fact, I'd argue that it's rare for one to not do this eventually). Such is the case with Pakistani /British guitarist/singer, Aziz Ibrahim, whose former band, The Stone Roses, has already earned respect within the indie community. On his sophomore release, Rusholme Rock, Ibrahim crafts inventive guitar sculptures over infectious rhythms, earthly tones, and cosmic effects. There's also a bit of singing, too, which helps add some diversity and break up the monotony.

Aside from his stint with the aforementioned band, Ibrahim has been making the rounds with plenty of artists, including Paul Weller, Simply Red, Asia, The Players, and the reigning king of progressive rock, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Storm Corrosion, et al). Rusholme Rock showcases an intriguing collaboration between Ibrahim and Dalbir Singh Rattan, a tabla player. While it can wear a bit thin at times and challenge attention spans with its extended loops and patterns, the music is still absorbing for the most part.

"Xen and Now," which leads the album, is full of dynamic changes, cool Middle Eastern timbres, and wild guitar work. In a way, it feels like something The Mahavishnu Orchestra might've tried if they toned down their progressive jazz tendencies and focused more on traditional arrangements. It features several transitions, too, which keeps it interesting. In contrast to the previous adventurism, ibrahim's cover of "I Fought the Law" (written by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets and made more famous by The Clash) is direct, concise, and very likeable. His overdubbed vocals are strong and the way he implements sounds of his home into the original song's framework is fantastic.

With its opening vocal puzzles, "Middle Road" feels like a tribal take on a Gentle Giant trademark (or like a revised version of the closing part of Yes' "Sound Chaser"). From there, it's a rather folky and warm song with plenty of fast guitar work and elegant percussion. "Kills Me" feels more commercial (as if it could be a single); however, it still feels unique to Ibrahim's aesthetic, and melodically, with its sorrowful guitar lines, it's definitely a highlight of the album. "My Star" is full of luscious overdubs and touches of Beatles-esque psychedelia, which makes it lovely, while the guitar work on "Morassi" would make John McLaughlin envious. Finally, album closer "Heaven's Rain" is an extremely sparse guitar piece, and since it ends with rainfall, one can imagine easily Ibrahim simply sitting on a porch during a storm, pouring out his soul through plucked strings.

Rusholme Rock is a masterful album, even if it can be a bit repetitive at times. Ibrahim is clearly a determined and focused artist whose direction is clear and whose commitment to his vision is unshakable. Best of all, Rusholme Rock is a perfect example of how contributors of other people's music (which includes being part of a band) sometimes deserve their own spotlight. Ibrahim is a brilliant solo artist, and I can't wait to hear what he does next.

Track Listing
1. Xen and Now
2. I Fought the law
3. Middle Road
4. Kills Me
5. Morassi
6. My Star
7. Heavens' Rain

Added: August 20th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Artist MySpace Page
Hits: 2782
Language: english

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