Anouar Brahem’s ‘Thimar’ sets memories reeling into motion

Updated 17 May 2018
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Anouar Brahem’s ‘Thimar’ sets memories reeling into motion

  • Brahem’s sparse, maqam themes offer a skeleton frame for collective sound-scaping of the most intuitive kind:

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: I can distinctly remember the first time I heard Anouar Brahem’s playing because the circumstances were so cinematically odd. As a wanderlust-struck student sitting in a café in Tangier, Morocco, a sketchy-looking local struck up a rapport and insisted on taking me to a nearby pirate CD shop, where he demanded the owner put on his favorite album.

The sounds which spiraled from the speakers were magical — a spellbinding swirl of oud, woodwind and percussion unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I bought the album on the spot. It was called “Madar” and was co-credited to Tunisian oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem. 

May 18th marks the 20th birthday of “Thimar,” arguably the most enduring recording of Brahem’s glittering, three-decade international career. Brazenly paired alongside two distinguished English jazzmen — bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist/clarinetist John Surman — the “transcultural” conceit exemplifies Brahem’s restless mission to transplant Arabic classical music traditions into an international, improvisational context.  

Brahem’s sparse, maqam themes offer a skeleton frame for collective sound-scaping of the most intuitive kind: Holland’s low growls and Surman’s plaintive cries a sympathetic sonic foil to the oud’s meditative meandering.

Tellingly, Brahem’s is the last voice to be heard, the oud only appearing half-way through the eight-minute opener “Badhra.”

There’s something special about the sparseness of “Thimar,” democratically colored by three largely monophonic instruments, like three wise men in a conversation. 

This is music to think to, not think about — sounds which fire up the synapses and set memories reeling into motion.   

 


US bishop at royal wedding thought invitation was a prank

Updated 22 May 2018
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US bishop at royal wedding thought invitation was a prank

LONDON: The American bishop whose sermon caused a stir at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle thought the invitation was a prank.
Rev. Michael Curry told ITV that he thought “somebody was doing an April Fools’ joke on me.”
Curry’s sermon, entitled “The Power of Love,” was one of the most discussed moments during Saturday’s wedding.
But Curry says Tuesday he “had no idea” his speech had caused such a stir and that he sat down and thought — “I hope that was OK.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as the couple are now known, will attend their first royal engagement as a married couple Tuesday at a Buckingham Palace party marking Prince Charles’ 70th birthday.