Guess What

Al Khawarizmi

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French duo Guess What are far from the only group to create fake soundtrack music, evoking scores from various eras of cinematic history. However, the group's recordings are all vastly different, each with a concept taking inspiration from historical figures or movements. 2012 full-length Mondo Giallo was the duo's only album to be specifically modeled around an era of film soundtracks, replicating the loungey side of film scores by Ennio Morricone, Riz Ortolani, and other Italian composers. Guess What's 2009 debut was dedicated to Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin, and Persian mathematician and astronomer Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī provides the inspiration for the duo's third album. While previous Guess What recordings featured guest musicians and additional instrumentation, Al-Khawarizmi was created entirely by the duo of Luke Warmcop and Graham Mushnik, and appears to be almost entirely electronic, with synthetic drum beats and loops, as well as a variety of keyboards. It's also the duo's least retro-sounding album, being inspired by more recent developments in Middle Eastern music, particularly genres such as raï. Basically, it sounds like what would happen if Omar Souleyman's producers made a dubby, trippy instrumental exotica album. It still has the groovy cinematic feel of previous recordings, along with fuzzy, psychedelic organ, but with a modern Arabic flavor to it. Most impressive and exciting is "Kitab Surat Al-Ard," which moves through several tempos and moods during its three-and-a-half minutes. Al-Khawarizmi is thoroughly delightful, and further proof that Guess What are as unpredictable as their name suggests.

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