ad 4 Fahtiem

Gilded Serpent presents...
Unveiled Musical Gems
3 CD Reviews:
Raqs El Qamar by Chris Marashlian,
Rhythms of Turkey by Tayyar Akdeniz,
Angelika Unveiled, by Angelika Nemeth and Raul Ferrando
Reviewed by Joette Sawall

Everyone has their own artistic opinions of what’s good, bad, and ugly. I’m no different. In the critics corner it is more than personal taste, its composition, clarity, arrangement, quality, and practicality for use. You may not share my taste nor agree with my selection, or even hate that I dissed your favorite artist.  On the other hand, you can trust my judgment in practicality, quality, and taste for the dancer and music connoisseur. So, don’t shoot me if I recommend something you end up buying and hating. Don’t yell at me if I rip apart a beloved album. Ok? All albums are rated on a four zill scale. I love most Arabic music, so albums will have at least a two, but I’ll try to be objective. Now that all the formalities are out front in the open, let the fun begin.

Raqs El Qamar is a compilation of easy listening tracks composed by Chris Marashlian. The entire work for lack of better words “is easy on the ears.” The seven tracks are long, light and simple in instrumentation. The sound may have been recorded on high definition but it is reminiscent of the band music you would hear with the 3 piece ensemble in the old Lebanese night clubs. I enjoy that old club feel but when I first put the CD on I turned it up twice because the sound clarity was poor. At the time it seemed more like muffled sound than high definition. The individual instrument sound is distant and I had to listen for precision and richness. When the Nay started in on track one, I literally wanted to reach into the studio and pull the musician close to the microphone. On the other hand, the artists on this album are talented and engaging with refreshing presentation. I think Marshlian has creative talent and I’m hoping to hear more from this inspiring producer in the future. Practicality use for Raqs El Qamar would be long warm-ups in class, twenty minute walk around the table easy club work, or maybe relaxing music during a long drive in the car. Raqs El Qamar is a musician’s CD and not so much for the performer. If this is what you’re looking for “GREAT” if not move on.
Rating is two zills for average.


Moving on to Rhythms of Turkey by Tayyar Akdeniz, I am going to officially name Akdeniz the “Super Turk.” This vast compilation of Turkish Rromi (aka gypsy in Western culture) music is over the top outstanding. Seldom at rest, Akdensiz sings and plays baglama, kasiklar, dumbec with mastery of the davul on this album. This first generation old Rromi music compilation in composes the joy of life, love and beauty of the Romi people in a contemporary format. Akdeniz is extremely proficient, knowledgeable and passionate about his art, music, and dance as it screams out in this CD. Sound quality is superb with clarity of instrumentation showing full bodied richness to each measure. There are nine time signatures represented in this volume one of Rhythms of Turkey including 2/4, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, 9/8, 9/16, 10/8, 9/16 and 8/8. In addition there are eight different percussion instruments used: bendir, davul, kasik, darbuka, parmak zills, nagara, tambourine, and kudum. I would venture to say that this CD crosses belly dance genres and is a highly educational tool for many musicians, modern dancers, scholars, and Turkish enthusiast alike. For the practicality of oriental dancers, the five bonus tracks were composed with you in mind. Track Derzor and Raks el Havanim are extremely classically rich for the Oriental styles and are four minutes or less in length. Overall this rates four zills on my scale for high presentation, quality, and uniqueness. My hats off to Akdeniz and his capabilities to master it all. Now I would like to see him increase his talent by balancing a shot of Raki (Turkish liquor) while dancing, singing, and playing. That would be spectacular!

Fusion versus contemporary is Angelika Unveiled, the latest work that artist Angelika Nemeth and composer Raul Ferrando released this past spring. As I began to piece together my thoughts over this album, I simply wondered what Nemeth was thinking when she and Ferrando created this CD and thus searched her Web site for an explanation. This is what I found: “Experience my love affair with La Danse Orientale and the passionately expressive music that accompanies it. An irresistible fusion of sounds -- traditional and innovative -- blending the dynamic West with the sensual East”. I would have to say “right on.” This compilation is a blast to listen to with many soulful sounds. Holy moly is it hard to pick a favorite track and I’m not the only one that feels this way. For example, I brought a few of these CD’s to my beginner’s class back in May and all the songs were already taken for solo performances in the next hafla. Everyone wanted a copy and was enthusiastic about embracing the power, beauty, and intoxification of Unveiled. Nemeth’s ability to merge contemporary sound and old school feel for the modern dancer is innovative and rockin’. The whole compilation is an intense feeling and warmth in these performance pieces which include two drum solos, an oriental entrance and exit, and four haunting contemporary pieces including Yearning and Fire Goddess. The lyrics to Fire Goddess composed by Madelena Morgan stir a passion within; I am the desert rose, beauty curves my limbs, luminous in moon-wine, blazing flames stir within, Fire Goddess dance with me. On the zill rating scale, Unveiled tops the charts at a four. Go get it – you won’t be disappointed and might even find yourself transformed to the magic land of “Angelikaville” where blushing, yearning, ancient memories, global grooves, and intoxicating taqsim’s rule the land. Don’t be afraid it is all a joyful pleasure!  


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