Richard Horowitz

Majoun

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This feast for the ears almost defies classification. Richard Horowitz is probably best known for his award-winning score to the Bernardo Bertolucci movie, The Sheltering Sky. Featured on the album is Tehran singer Sussan Deyhim; her voice is extremely expressive in an "x-tatic" Middle Eastern style, with its distinctive embellishments and phrasing. Horowitz takes recordings of her voice and layers it in subtle yet exotic tapestries and harmonies. This is not the ripoff sampling done so often on ambient dance albums. Deyhim's voice is the center of the compositions, and her artistry is always honored. At times, her combined voices sound like the Manhattan Transfer, but when the title track features 84 recombined samples of her voice, the result is very unique. A jewel among the jewels is "________________," a delicate balancing act of chamber orchestra, haunting reed instruments, and Deyhim's massed vocals sounding like a heady procession of bees. Although the sound processing is important, the album features many live musicians, including world music expert Jaron Lanier and members of the Moroccan National Radio and Television Orchestra. Majoun offers layers upon veils of mysteries and never stoops to trite Middle Eastern musical clich├ęs. Highly recommended.

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