Network 28686

Nomad Spirit is Abaji's latest release on Network. And with this recording, he outperforms himself. Assisted by Ramesh Shotnam on percussion, Djivan Gaparyan with his dudouk and the guembri (Berber bass lute) and oud of Majid Bekkas, Abaji crosses many borders. He takes the listener to known and unknown landscapes of past and present times. The paths he follows is laid out by his ancestors, in the case of "Nomad Blues" his great-grandfathers. The means of travelling are the musical instruments.

Abaji uses various stringed instruments like the sitar-guitar, the bouzouki and wind instruments to draw his family tree for us. Every branch comes from a different area of the Far or Middle East. Each branch has thus its own sound and color scheme. Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Lebanese and Syrian influences are all blended together in a unique, almost hypnotizing musical amalgam. The addition of the Indian percussion of Ramesh Shotham extends the territories covered further East yet.

As Abaji takes the listener with him on his journey, the scenery sketched by the music passes by - vistas of caravans at sunset heading to a certain destination; the travels of Alexander the Great to Kandahar; or the meandering of a sweet stream. In a few songs, Abaji sings with his raw, low voice which gives a beautiful contrast to the overtone-rich string instruments. Each and every song does not only exploit the musical intention of Abaji's composition, it also explores the possibilities of the instruments used. An old guitar is converted into an oud guitar as the frets have been removed and the strings doubled. Bowing the guitar or the sitar-guitar adds another flavour to the sound.

Eeach time the CD is played, another subtle layer of Abaji's meaning can be discovered. The combination of tones transports the background from one geographical area to another in one beat. Like many other Network CDs, the recording quality is excellent and so is the pressing. Instrument sizes are natural and there is no hint of over-emphasizing any tonal region. The very personal emotional expressions of Abaji are captured with great care and love.