Gnawledge

Granada Doaba

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It's not often you'll come across a CD that says "Please copy, share and remix" on the back cover. But then, it's not often you come across a CD like this one from Gnawledge, which has to be one of the coolest academic projects ever, created by Canyon Cody on a Fulbright scholarship. He went to Granada, Spain, to investigate the music of Al-Andalus, teamed up with producer gNotes, and using old vinyl and immigrant musicians, created this CD. While it's billed as hip-hop, that's far too exact a label to put on a project like this, since that's only part of what's here. There's pure flamenco guitar (the opener "Flamencologia"), just laud -- an instrument very close to the oud ("El Arte de Escuchar"), flamenco mixed with jazz fusion electric guitar, qanun -- it varies so much from track to track, the only thread is the Andalusian spirit and Diaspora (although the sitar on "Juxtapotente" even challenges that idea). Not everything works brilliantly -- "Perro Cruzado," for instance, loses focus and goes on too long. But what sets this album apart is that it's not meant to be a finished product; it's a work in progress, which is why the remixes are actively encouraged (a CD of remixes comes along with it), to be uploaded to the project's site. This is a fascinating, sometimes compelling, document of a culture as seen by those who look at it from the outside.

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