I’m definitely weak for jazz influenced by Hindustani classical music, as I’m quite fond of the powerful ragas of Ravi Shankar. I also recently discovered the UK musical project Muslimgauze, which is electronica heavily influenced by conflicts and history in the Muslim world, and an distinct middle-eastern soundscape. And with an album cover like this, showing a sorrowful middle eastern woman with the title written in beautiful arabic, I’m easily sold.
This is Pakistani group Jaubi’s debut record and its a strong one. After the introduction aptly titled «Seek Refuge», we are thrown into «Insia», a beautiful blend of hard drumming, guitar and flute. The album really gets going in «Raga Gijri Todi», an exciting tempo-filled track, but the intense drumming occasionally overpowers the melodies, but without ruining the power of the track. In the next track «Straight Path», however, the drumming is more restrained, with tabla as the main timekeeping device, and it one of the more authentic tracks on the record.
It is impossible to ignore the amount of instruments on this album. Looking beyond the obvious ones such as drums and guitar, there is sarangi, tabla, and six different key-instruments. It all adds up to a solid range of sound. While I would have liked more experimentation and freer solos, I think the album achieves its goals just fine through the next few tracks. The final track is a nice escalation point for the album, and rounds off with an especially strong soprano sax solo by Tenderlonious.
The album ends up being a tight package, in a good way. At a total of 42 minutes, this is easily digested, but never unfulfilling. It both feels and sounds quite good, but sometimes a bit too safe. Those expecting experimental, genre-bending jazz might end up disappointed, as this is linear music, leaning more towards fusion and «indo» than to jazz or «spiritual». I ended up checking out the group’s previous release, an EP titled The Deconstructed Ego, which seem to point to how this full-length album eventually came to be.
While not breaking any new ground, this is an album I can easily see myself retuning to when I’m in the mood for middle-eastern sounds. If you are hungry for anything spiritual jazz-influenced or remotely sounding like a busy street corner in Lahore, you’re welcome.
Ali Riaz Baqar composer (g), Zohaib Hassan Khan (sarangi), Qammar ‘Vicky’ Abbas (dr), Kashif Ali Dhani (ta, v), Tenderlonious (fl, ss), Latarnik (ep, gp, ke, as, ms, clavinet)