Claude Chalhoub

"Produced by, and featuring some performances from, experimental guitarist Michael Brook, Claude Chalhoub's self-titled album charts exotic musical territory by meshing Western and Indian classical and Arabic music, occasionally peppering the mix with modern influences such as rock and ambient. Lebanese composer/violinist Chalhoub also plays other instruments (piano, harmonium, and viola), and his approach here is to find parallel elements in the diverse styles he embraces. He is unafraid to unite Western strings and Eastern percussion, or electric instruments with organic ones. Throughout the album, genre lines become blurry. The sweeping Arabic strings of "Red Desert" are accompanied rhythmically by Indian tabla and propulsive rock drumming; flute, guitars, bass, and keyboards also figure into the composition. "Don't Wake Me Up" effortlessly traverses Arabic and classical string orchestrations, and it integrates Spanish guitar and lively tabla playing in the right spots. "Two Angels" highlights the album's omnipresent string octet by exploring an Eastern mode while the piano accompaniment delves into a Western one. Then "Kaa" and the epic "Melancholia" find Chalhoub and Brook in a mesmerizing ambient mood. (Incidentally, "Baddour" features guest Pakistani singer Farroukh Fateh Ali Khan, brother of the late Nusrat.) Chalhoub's sensual synthesis of styles is truly enchanting."

1. Red Desert
2. Gnossienne
3. Baddour
4. Oriental Images
5. Don't Wake Me Up
6. Kaa
7. Two Angels
8. Melancholia
9. Don't Wake Me up (Spring Mix)

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