Thursday, December 11, 2014

CD Review: Baraka's Double-Disc 'Shams'

Shams [2-CD]
Sketis Music

The Latvian band, Baraka, brings us a double-disc release of music celebrating the contemporary styles of Tajikistan. However, the music incorporates the help of Latvian, Russian, Tajiki, Lebanese, Nepalese, and Afghani musicians for a truly world music result. The Farsi or Tajiki vocals are used sparingly in ballads, folk songs, and jazzy songs throughout. There is a strong element of world jazz and lounge music, but some of the songs incorporate more of a Middle Eastern vein. Nevertheless, there is something for everyone here--from hip hop vocals to swaying jazz and funky Tajiki melodies. The songs are all very solid compositions with clear vocals and instrumental splendor. There are some traditional instruments, including the iconic dutar, setor, rubab, sitar, duduk, dilraba, and saz. The contemporary sounds stem from keyboards, guitars, bass, piano, and horns. Baraka does a great job blending the past with the present by not resorting to ho-hum melodies and rhythms, but rather bringing to life various instruments and styles indigenous to the Central Asian Republics, the Middle East, and Western Europe and Russia. Nearly two-hours of music are included with liner notes. ~ Matthew Forss  

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