Daniel Higgs – viv

vivWhat’s the definition of perfect pitch?

A banjo down a 40-foot hole without touching the sides!

At least, I used to think that was the pinnacle in musician jokes, but then the legendary Daniel Higgs had to go and start doing improvisations with a banjo, didn’t he? And now I like music with banjos in it.

This sort of music could be made anywhere, anywhen. I’m sure I’ve heard Indian ragas with this kind of feel, I’ve definitely heard Hamza el-Din doing stuff with this kind of feel, and probably all the zillion or so other cultures in the world also have their equivalents.

His previous band Lungfish did meditative and repetitive music, so you could argue his approach has been consistent all the way through. He’s done quite a few of this sort of thing solo, my other recent favourite being The Godward Way. The subject matter, when he does sing, is the perennial philosophy. This is the music of a man sitting down and letting the spirit move his fingers. I hesitate to use the word ‘shaman’ because it is a label that has been pinned on so many now and is probably a bit overused, and I’m also not overly confident that we use the term correctly anymore anyway. But, y’know, mystical and cosmic philosophies? Improvised meditative music? I’ll just make myself comfortable.

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City of Djinn – Ether and Red Sulphur

citydjinn

It’s just possible that when I’ve said that what I really like is psychedelic music, I may have meant what I really like is music that puts you in a trance. Trance music. But not as it is popularly understood. See, this is the problem with labels…

This is proper trance music, as in, music that puts you in a trance. I’ve been here before with people like Alif and Malayeen, and I also like to think of Hamza El Din in these contexts. This is a much more lo-fi take, as it sounds like it was recorded in one take in someone’s living room, fluffed and flat notes included. But I love it. I hope they do more music, and that I may get a chance to hear that too.

City of Djinn (link is to F***book page, sorry) is two geezers, Marwan Kamel and Micah Bezold, who frequently sound like more. They use a variety of instruments, possibly not at all the same time but then I’ve not seen it, merely heard it. It is a very spacious sound they make; very meditative. But these are not short pieces, so do set aside a bit of time in order to grok this fully.

Alif – Aynama-Rtama

 alifThere’s something about the music made in and around the mediterranean area which seriously appeals to me, from the desert blues of North Africa (some of which I shall bring you at some point) to the wonderful Malayeen who I mentioned earlier this year, and many stops in between.

 The story for this album is detailed on the bandcamp page so I shan’t rehash it here. What I shall say is that I like this album so terribly, terribly much. It obviously sounds like the area it comes from, but there are also hints of Hamza El Din (could be the oud playing) and a certain bluesy feel, reminiscent at times of the why-weren’t-they-household-names Little Axe. Some of the tunes aren’t afraid to incorporate western rock leanings, too. It is yet another album that has me floundering for descriptors, which proves to me that this is the real stuff. I’ve got something brewing about that.

Love the album art, too.