Shabaz :: Shabaz
[ark21]   review from derek  

The first time I popped in a recent Rhythm-On-Disc collection I heard a familiar hip-hop beat rising from the obscurity of silence that caught my immediate attention. Suddenly, within sixteen counts, a slight funk guitar with horns followed, ending with the qawwali chanting offered by Riffat Salamat. The track was Shabaz's "Queenie's Jam" titled after the nickname of the vocalist and I was hooked on Shabaz.

Picking up their album right after that listen, I found an interesting blend of an ancient Pakistani art form (qawwali) combined with smart beats. Toning down traditional instruments such as tablas and harmoniums, the western production of the rhythms combined with the qawwali vocals of Queenie and Sukhawat Ali Khan add a powerfully mellow flavor to the serene grooves.

The opening "Jewleh Lai" rips with a two-minute drum intro, while "Mere Sagina" and "Raga" are studious attempts at calm. Overall, it's a solid album from beginning to end, though there is a slight repetition that dulls down some of the more transient tracks. Being a first attempt, there could have been a stronger focus on traditional instrumentation to make the transition more fluid, but it's still a great album for numerous occasions as their future fusion should become more and more interesting.

ethnotechno rating: 3.5 out of 5
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