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Duni; Elina Quartet: Matanė Malit

If ever an album delivered through its sheer patience, understanding of its songs and the ability of all the musicians to play purely for the music, then Matanė Malit is it. Sung in the native tongue of singer Elina Duni, these Albanian traditional, or inspired songs, may be created by the profoundly trad jazz quartet of piano, double bass, drums and voice, but the music they deliver is far from jazz. Although it is traditional, just not to Western ears. A lack of understanding for what is being sung actually heightens the listener's engagement to the voice delivering them and when the piano which longingly hangs on every Albanian word, compliments the fragile yet unbelievably confident vocals - as it does through every second of this album - the results are undoubtedly captivating. There is also no denying that this is mood music - something to spend lonely hours contemplating in the same way the music itself does, with the brittleness and unwavering focus of each and every track presented, making them moments that demand concentration. If for one second your gaze slips, ear wanders, or mind resists, whole songs can ease by without you noticing. However make the time, take the effort, shut out the world and every note, every beat, every plucked string and every breathy husk of voice, firmly, yet carefully grips you with a caring hand on each cheek. Keeping you from merest moment away from its longing stare.

Deeply beautiful, yet uncompromising in a way that heavy brutal music can only aspire to, the nearest way of explaining what Matanė Malit sounds like, would be to imagine Enya with every last piece of bombast, glitter and sheen, cast aside in favour of stark arrangements, forcefulness through emptiness and an ability to cage the imagination in such a way that you feel removed from the everyday. Instead living only in the other worldliness of Duni's simply stunning voice. She couldn't do it alone however, with the craft, skill, poise and lack of ego shown by pianist Colin Vallon - who first convinced Duni to perform in her native tongue, Patrice Moret who confidently caresses his double bass and drummer Norbert Pfammatter sitting astride the snare. All three shine in an amazingly unobtrusive manner and star in a way that always makes you aware of their presence, but never in favour of the song itself.

Matanė Malit is an album that you have to set an evening aside for, put your phone on silent to experience without danger of an inorganic noise piercing the mood and that deserves numerous listens to unravel. If that all sounds like hard work, turn away for this will not be for you. The more traditional, yet ultimately more adventurous, will be rewarded time and again.


Track Listing
1. Ka njė mot
2. Kjani trima - trad. Albania
3. Kur tė kujtosh
4. Vajzė e valėve
5. Unė ty moj - trad. Albania
6. Erė pranverore
7. Ēelo Mezani - trad. Albania
8. Ra kambana - trad. Albania
9. Ēobankat - trad. Albania
10. Kristal
11. U rrit vasha - trad. Kosovo
12. Mine Peza - trad. Albania

Added: December 17th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Elina Duni online
Hits: 1116
Language: english

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