Jamshied Sharifi

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Primarily a film score writer, Jamshied Sharifi has taken a stab at a more ethnic bent at least once in the past, with A Prayer for the Soul of Layla. Here, he steps up the multicultural influence a bit more, enlisting a series of artists from well around the world music bend and from the heartland as well (Sharifi is actually from Kansas). The music intentionally breaks apart any boundaries between otherwise disparate styles of world music, and uses a synthesizer base as a blank palette of sorts onto which Sharifi can lay out rhythm tracks and vocals with relative ease. Singers on the album all add their own colors, but fit into an interesting mix -- Yungchen Llamo's Tibetan warbling is played in counterpoint against the cascading vocal delivery of a Malian singer to open the album, and it only gets more interesting as it continues. Singer/songwriter Paula Cole is given a vocal part against Moroccan great Hassan Hakmoun (who also co-wrote a few tracks on the album). Hakmoun plays against an Irish whistler on a 9/11 ballad soon after. The overall sound is an ethereal one, never quite sure whether it's new age with a world bent or world music without a home. The synthesizers themselves can get a bit monotonous from time to time, but the compositions as a whole are fairly well-planned, and the guest artists carry out some very nice performances. The album never really seems to get anywhere given its own contradictions of sound, but stays right where it is and works out pretty well.

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