Wild Serenade

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Duoud, the pairing of oud players Mehdi Haddab and Smadj, does indeed prove to be a wild serenade. Playing in unison or off each other, they complement each other well -- but the real wildness comes with the arrangements. In addition to Smadj's computerized loops and atmospheres, there's electric cello, electric guitar, violin, drums, and percussion -- all splendidly played and not afraid of getting frenetic when asked. Although its starts out very rootsy with the demanding "Yarimo," it's not long before the band is heading for the outer limits with "Racailles," where the cello provides interesting counterpoint and texture over a complex rhythm, with some virtuosic oud work followed by Pierre Fruchard's screaming guitar. And anyone who decides to cover Giorgio Moroder's "Chase" possesses great imagination (equally intriguing is the remix of the track "Midnight for Dancing With Friends in Your Living Room"). And if you think you've heard the violin played before, check out "For Nedim." This is a disc that pulls no punches and is all the better for it, where the acoustic integrity of the oud mixes perfectly with the electric intensity of the other instruments. It may not be the Middle East of tomorrow, but it's the world fusion of today.

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