Mawwal – “Sight Up” (Ancient Records 2011)

Mawwal is Jim Matus, formerly “Paranoise” and Sight Up is the third Mawwal album of progressive world fusion. Jim Matus (I wonder if he’s related to Don Juan Matus?) has worked in the studio with Don Cherry and Steve Marcus and performed live with world class musicians Anthony Jackson, Percy Jones, Al Anderson, Gary Windo, and Hugh Hopper.

On to the review. BLOOM FOREST: hippie festival music done tastefully. The male vocals are done by Jim Matus and the female vocals by Jill O’Brien and Laila Salins… “much of the subject matter…was inspired by dreams”. JAJOUKA BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS: a Jethro Tull vibe on the intro of this, then becomes something more African, Peter Gabriel…the Stephen Haynes trumpet solo. FUN DUU/VOODOO CHILE: more Tull vibeness. I love 60’s and psychedelic music but the bands I’ve been involved with have run in a completely parallel universe to bands like Mawwal, who are psychedelic without any of the post 1977 influences of alternate rock, punk, experimental etc. I always find that a little limiting but I know a lot of Aural Innovations people don’t feel that way. Nice respectful take on Jimi’s Voodoo Chile. SIGHT UP/VETETTEM VIOLAT: “Man is but a god, sight up, All in heaven be blind, ears to the ground” by Jim Matus. I don’t know what that means, I guess it doesn’t have to mean anything, but it sounds cool. Laila Salins vocals, violin by Rohan Gregory…nice groove, very Middle Eastern. My wife loves this album, very conducive to multiple listens…original and well done in every aspect. I MUTE THE BURNING RIVER: djembe intro by Tony Vacca. I’d love to see these guys live to see if they can get this rich and full of a sound!?!? Wish there a lyric sheet. Very dense and lovely…not a boring second. HAPPY ON YOUR FEET GO: some very inspired flute by Jay Gandhi and the two female vocals that complement one another perfectly. EARLY IN THE MORNING: more of the same, like 1974 with much better equipment and production etc…conjures up The Incredible String Band. RAG YAMEN: tabla and guitar…bass then flute…my punk rock friends would prolly sneer at this album but they sneer at my band too so F’em…hippie doesn’t have to mean retro or silly…it can also mean frightening, intense and real. Cool cover photo of the Eagle Nebula.

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Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

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