Strunz & Farah

Journey Around the Sun

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The core of Strunz & Farah's two-guitar style is and always has been a hybridization of their ethnic backgrounds, Strunz's Latin influences mixing with Farah's Arabic ones. In shorthand, listening to their music is like hearing Arab musicians trying to play flamenco in Tehran. The hybrid is as interesting as usual on Journey Around the Sun, the chief distinguishing element being the presence of Rob Hardt on clarinet and flute. The two guitarists tend to begin the six- or seven-minute instrumental tracks that make up most of the disc, backed by a percussion team that manages to suggest both Spanish and Middle Eastern rhythms, and then, halfway into a given track, Hardt arrives, sometimes playing his own countermelody to what's going on, sometimes shadowing one or the other of the guitarists. The playing can be very fast. "Raggle Taggle," the leadoff track, brings "The Flight of the Bumblebee" to mind, and even "Morpho," which, as its title suggests, is more relaxed, boasts some flashy runs. Strunz, who wrote most of the material, exerts more influence, with only Farah's "Jamilah," his only sole composition, leaning more to the Arab side. After six lengthy pieces, the album concludes with three short ones beginning with "Valsito," for which the percussion drops out, leaving it as a trio performance. The 37 seconds of "The Hare" sound like a variation on "Chopsticks," which is to say the tune has very little variation and lasts as long as it should. "Paseos" brings things to a bright conclusion. Strunz & Farah (who should perhaps be billed as Strunz, Farah & Hardt on this disc) continue to come up with engaging music by pointing up the similarities and differences in their ethnic musical backgrounds.

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