Abaji

Origine Orient

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Abaji is a strange one, and this album is perhaps his oddest to date. Every track was recorded in a single, live take, with the man himself playing several instruments simultaneously. Born in Beirut to Greek and Turkish parents, and with ties to Armenia and Syria, and now a resident of France, he's a child of the Mediterranean, but certainly a maverick one who makes his own instruments, like the oud-guitar; plays a massive number of different things, frequently at the same time; and can make Arabic music sound like the blues, then come out with something like "Râyehh," which sounds like Leonard Cohen (although in his more impassioned moments elsewhere, add Jim Morrison into that mix). Several of the cuts are instrumentals, and although the harmonica sounds out of place on "Saz Dance," the surprises are often delightful, as with the kamencheh fiddle that pushes "Steppes." It all works simply because he's very, very good at what he does -- this doesn't sound like an amateurish one-man band, but a whole, accomplished group, and he can certainly play all those instruments. Abaji is especially impressive on the bouzouki (never mind that at times it might be across his lap and played using a whistle for a slide). Bizarre, yes, but definitely magical.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:53
2
4:48
3
6:26
4
3:47
5
3:09
6
4:15
7
3:21
8
4:56
9
2:44
10
3:16
11
3:52
12
3:25
13
2:45
14
3:22
blue highlight denotes track pick