An interesting collection of Middle Eastern compositions from New Yorker Robert Fish, Fish on the Desert is essentially the output of an urban world drumming instructor exploring the range of Middle Eastern rhythms. Fish is accompanied ably by a collective of likeminded musicians on a number of Arabic and Indian instruments, and it's really these other musicians who keep the music flowing. The percussion as performed by Fish is capable, but not really powerful enough to support the album by itself. There are bits and pieces from various regions represented here, with the range stretching from Turkey to India. However, the bulk hails from the Arabian peninsula and Egypt, with only touches of the rest of the Islamic world here and there in the form of an instrumental qawwal or a North African rhythm. In an interesting twist, poet Sharam Shiva accompanies the band for a set of his poetry, attempting to strive toward the work of Omar Khayyam to a degree (though there are touches of Rumi as well, which the liner notes point toward more fervently). The music is performed well, but is rather standard. Purely traditional troupes have more fire, and more forward-looking fusionists have more new directions. This album is left in the middle, looking neither forward or backward, and arguably suffering as a result.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg