Harmonia Mundi
Label website
The duo of Javier Mas (12-string guitar/slide guitar/archlute) and Jordi Rallo (tabla/percussion) digs deeply and unplugged into a ficticious no-man's land that borders India, Spain and Black Arabia. Into this eclectic terrain, mix the raw vocals and gut-strung sintir bass of Gnawa formation Nass Marrakesh [Sabil 'a Salaam, Alula 1021, 2000]; Dimitri Psonis on riq; Jordi Gaspar on double-bass; and Shyam Sunder on bansuri.

Think Flamenco/tabla explots à la Curandero with Ty Burhoe and Miguel Espinoza; Flamenco/African crossover vis-à-vis Ketama/Songhai. Season with a dash of Hassan Erraji & Arabesque. Stir in a few strains of Larry Coryell during his dialogue with L. Subramaniam on From the Ashes. Add seven Dutch drops of Trio Pulsar. Spice up with Thierry 'Tit' Robin's virile bouzouq. Flavor with Pata Negra. Garnish with aroma of De Bénarès à Jerez. Voilà. Tamiz.

This music has the spontaneous, unrehearsed feel of a small Gipsy juerga peppered with flashes of palmas, hoarse voices from the desert whirling like Shamanic incantations around the trance drummers chasing duende, the promised descent of unhinged abandonment. Most tracks thus feature a brief intro in which the particular soloist freely gropes for that connection before the ensemble surges in to magnify the space around it. You can palpably sense the gathering tension in each movement. It's a kind of primitive and ancient presence. It builds without regard for civilized formalities. It's a magical entrance into tribal realms where music, especially cyclically rhythmic music, becomes the gateway to altered states.

Already the broken, glassy timbre of Javier's freewheeling 12-string guitar -- breaking into Blues riffs as readily as Flamenco machismo -- reeks of misbehaving wildness. The nomadic vocals of Abdeljalil Kodsy, Abdelaziz Arradi and Moulay M'Hamed Ennaji "Sherrif" compound this impression with their pounding karakbas. Then consider the juxtaposition of Blues slide guitar rapping over yet another unexpected sunrise to the Indian bamboo flute while the murmuring trills and impulses of the tabla maintain the tether with reality. Or the incendiary 5/4-time "Iman" that's a break-away showcase for Javier's guitar prowess dancing above a groove by Rallo's udu, tablas and assorted shakers that glitter, jerk and thrash like a captive electric eel.

Tamiz is an amazing meeting at dusk, when worlds collide, boundaries dissolve and voices from faraway cultures and countries mingle seamlessly before the short duration of twilight fades into inky darkness. It values elbow grease over polish, substance over style, emotional charge over cerebral distance. There's the metallic twang of fiercely struck strings; the unvarnished furor of primitive vocals; the trembling uncertainty of shifty drum patterns; small creaky noises, fretboard fingering slides, unedited encouragements between the musicians. There's the dirty wind of overblown flute, the minor distortions of instruments forced to the edge of containment. Intensity at the brink of violence. Go grab a dose of it in the safety of your living room and feel momentarily like a banshee dervish dancing in the thick swirls of a well-lit waterpipe.