No one brings the past and the future together into the present quite like Raz Mesinai (Badawi). Born in Jerusalem, Mesinai split his childhood between there and New York City, spending much of his time in Jerusalem studying Middle Eastern percussion in the Sinai desert with Bedouins and his time in NYC expanding into Afro-Cuban, Moroccan, Persian, Indian, and other styles. He professes a percussion sound and vision unlike any other, and when he is sometimes called “the Hendrix of percussion,” it’s not much of an exaggeration.
Badawi arms himself against these Clones with percussion, flute, piano, electronics, and some of NYC’s most veteran progressive musicians in guitarist Marc Ribot and clarinetist Doug Wieselman, plus drummer Ben Perowski, bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and vocalist Carolyn “Honeychild” Coleman.
“Enter the Etherics”—exotically timed, with clarinet evoking the Middle Eastern sound of the shanai and flute dancing in colorful robes against the cataclysmic percussion background—raises the curtain on what suggests a soundtrack for a yet-to-be-filmed Old Testament epic comprised not so much of songs but of musical pieces, of sound sculptures.
The first four tracks set the stage for “The Circle,” which draws battlelines for the ensuing climactic “Battle Cry.” Though every other song slowly writhes to life like a newborn serpent, “Battle Cry” explodes like simultaneous strikes of lightning and thunder. Powerful and violent, it unleashes the furious instrumental sound of King Crimson wandering lost for forty days in the Sinai, Ribot spitting guitar venom, ending in the final dying gasps of a radio transmission from the battlefield front.
Thanks to their drum and bass, “Enter the False Prophets,” which bleeds into “False Dub,” expands the Badawi sound and rhythm palette into the reggae/dub backbeat of the Caribbean, albeit twisted and very darkly toasted.
Personnel: Raz Mesinai (percussion, flute, piano); Shahzad Ismaily (bass); Ben Perowsky (drums, percussion); Doug Wieselman (clarinet); Marc Ribot (guitars); Carolyn "Honeychild" Coleman (vocals)