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Afro Garage: Eighteen Ways to Miss Egypt

Glenn Astarita By

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This European trio has only released three CDs in 23-years of existence, while framing its inspiration on a love for cinema. Hence, the album is an amalgamation of two spontaneously crafted film scores, recorded in 2005 "Thèbes à l'ombre de la tombe" and in 2011 "Thousand and One Cairo." It's a program formed on dainty surprises via free-jazz inspired Afro-Beat collages, transformed into the improvisational spectrum with minimalist etudes, often touched with bassist Jacques Siron's background chanting or murmuring. Essentially, the artists lock into semi-structured grooves, enveloped within a capacious backdrop.

With these eighteen-tracks, the trio makes its case and moves on. The musicians do not overemphasize any plights as they consummate a string of interrelated nuances and tone poems, often engineered on pert and at times, asymmetrical African motifs. On pieces such as "Shisha," and "Daily Craze: Encore le Trafic," they roll along with tempered cadences, hued with drummer Dieter Ulrich's cyclical percussion treatments and jazzy use of brushes. But the music is also sketched on North African undertones, spawning jazz-based improvisation and pianist Christoph Baumann's subterranean voicings and melodic single note runs. However, the pianist's brief solo on "Crépuscule Avec Thé," is mottled with Thelonious Monk style rhythmic progressions.

"Hummin' Mummies" intimates a heightened sense of audio/visual aspects due to Siron's creaky arco lines and the band's loping or hop-along gait that could spark impressions of walking through a murky tomb in one of Egypt's pyramids. And they jump into the modern jazz schema for the final piece "Can I Keep A Picture Of This?," led by Baumann's cheery and lush soloing atop a mid-tempo swing motif, underscored by the drummer's cymbals swashes. While the presentation is paced on loosely based, free-range sensations, the artists triumphantly bridge the gap—spawning a wildly entertaining forum —between conventional norms and off-center thematic developments.

Track Listing: Daily Craze: Le Trafic; Whispering Shadows; A While With The Nile; Bizarbazar; Un Thé, Deux Sucres; Akhena-Tones; Daily Craze: Encore Le Trafic; Sans Sucre; Shisha; What The Moon Keeps To Herself; Daily Craze: Le Trafic Toujours!;Insomnia; What The Wind Asks, Time Answers; Le Travail Du Scarabée; Crépuscule Avec Thé; Hummin' Mummies; Come In My Shop!; Can I Keep A Picture Of This?.

Personnel: Christoph Baumann: piano; Jacques Sirone: bass, voice; Dieter Ulrich: drums, bugle.

Title: Eighteen Ways to Miss Egypt | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Leo Records

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