Stellamara

Star of the Sea

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AllMusic Review by

The influences that contribute to this album are as diverse as any you'll find. Recorded in the San Francisco and released by the avant-garde independent label City of Tribes, it is an intriguing example of world music. The musical instrumentation is more Eastern than Western in its leanings. While everything from keyboard samples to cello can be heard on the recording, the standout instruments are the oud, riqq, hammered dulcimer, and other unusual Eastern strings and drums. Lead singer Sonja Drakulich has a floating, agile voice that is perfectly suited (and probably better trained) to the Eastern scale than the Western. Her interpretation of lyrics that are, in many cases, eight centuries old is masterful. However, the lack of traditional structure renders the melody line rather inaccessible to the average listener. The only track that really draws in the listener is "Del Mar Rojo," a song with lyrics composed by the Sephardic Jewry at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. On the flip side, the track most in keeping with the theme of the album may be "Leda": After a two-minute intro, it segues into a string passage so gentle you can almost forget you're listening to anything at all. The final track, a traditional Croatian song called "Oj Jabuko," is unusual because of its highly dissonant harmonies and percussion-driven structure. The timeless, lingering tone of the album brings to mind isolated monasteries, endless deserts, and ancient villages.

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