New Internationalist

In the House of Mirrors

November 2008

by Hector Zazou and Swara

Hector Zazou, who recently died suddenly, was an artist falling into a category that might be defined as a composer-enabler. Yes, he composed, but a significant component of his art consisted in a technique of teasing material out of others and creating dizzying new contexts. Zazou, a French musician born in Algeria, spent years doing fascinating things with an astonishing array of musicians – John Cale, Björk, Siouxsie Sioux, Sussan Deyhim and even a bunch of traditional Corsican singers – but none compare to the shimmering surfaces of In the House of Mirrors.

It’s an instrumental album based around a subtle use of conceptual counterpoint. Working with four classical virtuosi – tambur-player Toir Kuziyev, violinist Miland Raikar, slide-guitarist Manish Pingle and flautist Ronu Majumdar – from India and Uzbekistan, plus a number of guests, including trumpeter Petter Molvaer and violinist Zoltan Lantos, Zazou encourages each musician to ‘reflect’ the work of their colleagues. The result is beyond improvisation. An atmospheric drone from violins and guitar paint a base coat for the colours to emerge. When they do, they are understated ones, each balanced by Zazou’s production skills. In the House of Mirrors is a contemplative album, but there is a real conversation between musical traditions binding it together.


This column was published in the November 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 417

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