From the vast series of Islamic music on Celestial Harmonies comes this album of Moroccan-Andalusian music. The performing ensemble makes use of an ud, ney, darbukka, tar, and a violin. Slightly different from the classical version of the genre, but there's enough freedom inherent in the music to allow for it easily enough. There's the usual call-and-response vocal that's so common in much North African music, but mixed in with instrumental solo breaks. The album opens with a lament at the loss of Andalusia that includes a noteworthy introductory section with instrumental preludes with and without rhythm (much like the alap and jor in Indian music). Another lament (at the loss of Alhambra this time) follows in much the same style (though without the tuchiya rhythmic prelude), and is followed itself by a more relaxed wedding song. Two more laments at the loss of Andalusia continue the progression, with another wedding song breaking the mood before two more laments at the loss of Alhambra finish the album. While the lyrical content is certainly not the most uplifting, the musical forms remain relatively upbeat throughout much of the album. A pulsing rhythm accentuated by the tar pushes the players forward into an ever more frenzied mood. The solo performers are worth hearing, though perhaps not of the virtuosic level of some others (Kudsi Erguner is a leading example for nay, Munir Beken for oud). As part of the series, this album has notable value as another piece of the worldwide puzzle of Islamic music. Give it a listen as part of the series, but don't seek it out alone.
AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg