Unlike his more accessible debut for Peter Gabriel's Real World label, The Fire Within abandons the Moroccan funk-rock fusion of Hassan Hakmoun's experimental group, Zahar, in favor of more traditional Gnawa sounds. With sparse, crystalline production by Bob Haddad, the album focuses on the healing powers of Moroccan music, which is often used in rituals to produce a magical, trance-like state in the participants. On most of the songs, Hakmoun's rumbling sintir-- a three-string bass lute with limited range but a remarkably diverse sound in skilled hands like these -- drives the beat forward with intricate rhythmic syncopation, as his impassioned vocals elevate the listener's consciousness to a more heavenly plane. This is remarkably stirring stuff, even for those who don't Jajouka (the site of Morocco's annual rites of Pan) from jujubes.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Love