Azigza - Azigza

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Lionharp Music
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:04:00

The term world music brings to mind several images, among them one of watered-down ethnic music played by incompetent Westerners who seem to be searching for the East's answer to new age. These idiots are usually responsible for taking all the spirit out of the music that they pretend to comprehend, and the end result is beautiful traditional arrangements gone to hell or pale imitations of the music of the world's peoples; all topped by corny titles such as "Whispers From The Wind," "Spirits Of The East," or some other similarly ludicrous phrase. Well, let people who use music as nothing but a background soundtrack for their lives hold on to that rubbish, I'll stick to Azigza instead.

Azigza is a relatively new outfit that embraces what has in recent years been defined as progressive world music; a meshing of prog rock and world music that draws from the trance-like qualities of traditional music and its instinctual energy and surrounds it with a rock veil that makes the result instantly effective and highly interesting. Recognized trailblazers Paranoise have already been reviewed here by yours truly before, and if that band and Azigza were ever to meet for one night, the result would be unforgettable (hint, hint), as the bands explore the same aural gallery and yet cover different sides of it, thus acquiring their very own identifiable character. In the case of Azigza, the side of the gallery is that of adapting world music and rock in order to produce a cohesive mixture of both, instead of setting unadulterated Moroccan samples against heavy riffs and rearranged traditionalisms.

Does the approach work? It does, and just as well as its "purer" counterpart does. Setting ethnic percussion against original music that sounds as if autochthonous from some distant mountainous desert tribe, and then bringing it up to date through an occasionally aggressive and occasionally atmospheric modernity, Azigza is an album that often brings the listener into an unconscious trance of vibrant dynamism. Add the excellent vocals of Cyoakha Grace, women's answer to Robert Plant, and the album is resounding with an energy and instinctual honesty that is not lost on the listener.

As you may have inferred from the album's grade, however, there is a slight catch to the praise. There is nothing inherently wrong with the approach of Azigza, and the band's unique brand of music is indeed enjoyable in its hypnotic quality. Unfortunately, however, the music also tends to meander at times, leaving its longest tracks particularly subject to a temporary loss of focus that dampens their otherwise absorbing nature. Even then, the impossibly appealing hypnosis of "Ratzinitza" and "Edallah Ya Rashidi," Grace's stunning vocals on "Zaman," and a ravishing cover of Led Zeppelin's "Friends" are sure to make this album a must-have for anyone interested in the development of progressive world music and the enormous potential it holds.

Similar artists: Paranoise

Glass (5:11) / Remember (5:24) / Petra (8:18) / Touch Moon Window (8:01) / Ratzinitza (3:55) / Distance (5:48) / Zaman (6:13) / Friends (6:22) / Edallah Ya Rashidi (6:52)

Kevin Evans - guitars, guitar synthesizer, electronic soundscapes
Aryeh Frankfurter - violin, viola, cello, harp, acoustic and tenor guitar, mandolin
Cyoakha Grace - vocals
Stephan Junca - drum set, djembe, doumbek, guiro, bongos, percussion
Pierce McDowell - bass, sitar, tamboura
Raja - tabla, kanjeera, djembe, zils, drums, percussion
Pedro Rivera - djembe, doumbek, conga, shakers, zils, percussion

Azigza (2000)
Kriya (2004)

Genre: Fusion-Jazz Fusion

Origin US

Added: August 11th 2002
Reviewer: Marcelo Silveyra
Artist website:
Hits: 823
Language: english


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