Aziz Ibrahim

Middle Road

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After holding his own in the darkest days of the Stone Roses' career and then co-writing the best tracks on Ian Brown's debut solo album, 2000 was as good a time as any for Aziz Ibrahim to come out of the session musician closet. "Middle Road" has guests like Paul Weller and Mani, but due to its aroma of a sitar-flecked effort wafting out like the Jam soundtracking a Bollywood epic, it's all thumbs and not exactly super-group detonation. Even fellow track "Kills Me" manages to just amble around the perimeter of a song -- regardless of Primal Scream's backing vocalist Denise Johnson and ex-Smiths members Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce trying to fill out the sound with impromptu musicianship. Fret not, though. The reason for the real praise is "Murassi." Featuring Talvin Singh and sounding not surprisingly like the Stone Roses feasting of Indian rock cuisine, it cascades with one of the most sincere and picturesque East/West crossovers in recent memory. Session musician tags and wasted guests notwithstanding, this is music that belies the mediocrity of the title.

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