By the Roads of Crusade

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They've an African name, a wintry point of origin, and a Middle Eastern sound. An unusual combination, yet they do very well with it. Djembe, the seven-member ensemble from Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia, returns with more medieval ambience, ably performed. The haunting, ethereal flute intro of "Par Deus" breaks suddenly into lively violin and percussion; sweeping rhythms that will set toes tapping for certain. "Wine-Grower Dance" has some interesting variations in tempo, from crisp violin with metallic percussion to a single stately flute and back to staccato violin and tambourine once more. "Magic Voice" is mysterious sounding, almost eerie, and at barely two-minutes long, rather brief. This one may well leave listeners wishing for more. For contrast, at seven minutes, "Cantara" is one of the longer performances, with its sonorous, somewhat ominous, hovering intro that then transitions to ululating vocals and percussion. "Triumph of the East" melds spells of wailing vocals with brisk percussion and more crisp tambourine work, plus a rhythm that sounds like a dance track for dromedaries. A similar cadence turns up in the appropriately named, very percussive "Camel Races." Bird calls mix with lilting flute on "Asian Morning" until it startles the ear and breaks into booming percussion with a manic, almost capering rhythm from the strings. Certainly an unexpected combination, yet curiously charming for all that. In all, this is another very evocative release, also recommended, like their sampler, Medieval Hits.