New Internationalist

Siwan

September 2009

By Jon Balke with Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell, Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche and Bjarte Eike.

Amina Alaoui – a tremendous voice on the broodingly beautiful Siwan.

So successful has been the German label ECM in finding and promoting new music – Arvo Pärt, Keith Jarrett and Jan Garbarek are just three of its artists – that it is now customary to speak of things sounding ‘ECM-ish’. That is: a touch new, a bit cerebral, always superbly recorded and produced. But, recording and production values apart, it’s wrong to typecast ECM’s output in this way. As Siwan – a stunningly attractive CD – demonstrates, there’s no limiting this label’s range of inquiry.

Meaning ‘balance’ in Aljamiado, the Latin-Arabic language used in medieval Andalusia, Siwan has great horizons. The work was conceived by Norwegian keyboardist Jon Balke as a project to make sonic links between medieval Spain and the contemporary world, with Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui and improvisational trumpeter Jon Hassell giving sparkling performances. Two violinists, from very different traditions (Algerian jazz expert Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche and the baroque leader Bjarte Eike), make up the whole.

Balke’s vision really works. His writing provides a structure spacious enough to house Eike’s baroque chamber orchestra, Hassell’s exquisite airy (and electronic) atmospheres and Alaoui’s tremendous voice. Over the course of 11 tracks, Siwan never errs. In particular, the setting of ‘O Andalusin’, with its 12th-century text extolling the similarities between Andalusia and Paradise, are broodingly beautiful. Other texts have similar mystic overtones. For all its ancient antecedents, Siwan is a very modern album and a joyous meditation for that.

LG

This column was published in the September 2009 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Siwan

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Siwan Fact File
Product information ECM 178 0151 CD
Star rating4
Product link http://www.ecmrecords.com

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Music

All Music

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 425

New Internationalist Magazine issue 425
Issue 425

More articles from this issue

  • The case for real aid

    September 1, 2009

    Jonathan Glennie takes on both the aid optimists and the pessimists.

  • Sin Nombre

    September 1, 2009

    A road movie cum Western. Or, rather, it's a railroad movie and the 'West' - where innumerable migrants are headed on railroad wagons - is more accurately the 'North', the US.

  • Summing up...

    September 1, 2009

    Vanessa Baird draws a few conclusions.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe