Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Les Triaboliques – rivermudtwilight

This is one of those rare albums whose title perfectly describes it. With an earthy, after-the-rain feel, it’s the brainchild of a trio of old British punks. Justin Adams is the least punk of the three – lead guitarist in Jah Wobble‘s band, collaborator with Tinariwen and Juldeh Camara (and recently with that has-been 70s rock guy), he’s one of the world’s foremost desert blues players. Lu Edmonds was in the Damned and then the Mekons, eventually took the same route Joe Strummer and dozens of his contemporaries would take into world music and is adept at a museum’s worth of stringed instruments. Ben Mandelson was in Magazine and would go on to found Globe Style Records, home to such diverse acts as Varttina and the Klezmatics. The debut collaboration between the three is a frequently  mesmerizing, otherworldly blend of desert blues, Balkan songs, vintage Americana, Britfolk and a gypsy caravan of styles from around the globe. It’s one of the best releases of the year in any style of music.

The first and last tracks are the most hypnotic, the former clanging like a stripped-down Tinariwen until a catchy, elliptical theme finally emerges, the latter a breathtaking amalgam of styles from Middle Eastern improvisation (played as a guitar taqsim by Adams) leading into a big blue-sky theme similar to early Pat Metheny. Spiced with guest Salah Dawson Miller’s guiro, Gulaguajira sets a vivid Russian prisoner’s lament atop a latin groove. The lush mesh of a phalanx of jangling, clanking, plinking, thumping stringed instruments – guitar, mandolin, saz and cumbus (Turkish lutes) and others is rich with suspenseful overtones, particularly on the tricky, sidestepping Afsaduni (I Have Been Corrupted). The single best song here is the eerie, atmospheric nocturne Shine a Light, an antiwar vocal number intoned ominously by Adams.

Heavy metal disguised as dusk-core, as the label calls it, the title track is surprisingly effective and psychedelic even if it kicks the hypnotic vibe to the curb. There’s also a stark Balkan lament, an even sparser one-chord jam on the old folksong Jack O’Diamonds (no relation to the Fairport Convention version), and a delightful John Lee Hooker style boogie flavored with exotic instruments (only the British would come up with some thing like that). The only misstep is a pointless cover of Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood which owes more to the odious Santa Esmeralda than to the Animals. This is one of those albums that’s as fun to hear as it must have been to record. If you can’t wait til Tinariwen’s new one comes out, this will do just fine.

Advertisements

September 8, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.