FINALLY released locally ...
to coincide with a concert at the Adelaide International Guitar Festival in Novernber, this disc, essentially a duet between Wolfgang Muthspiel's delicate guitar lines and shadings and Dhafer Youssef's intricate oud work and remarkable falsetto wordless vocals, is a sublime collaboration.
Austrian Muthspiel first came to notice when, after studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music, he was invited tojoin' Gary Burton's band, replacing Pat Metheny, then playing with musicians including Trilok Gurtu, Brian Blade and Marc Johnson. He is a subtle technician, particularly when using volume pedal and sound processing.
Reminiscent of magical guitar duets between John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, Glow was recorded in 2007 after Youssef's work with his Norwegian nu-jazz-collective on Digital Prophecy and Divine Shadows, and before his present acoustic jazz quartet, which produced last year's magnificent Abu Nawas Rhapsody. It shows a distinct musical empathy that dates back to Youssef's 2001 disc Electric Sufi. Sand Dance starts with a bouncing tabla backing from percussionist Alegre Correa leading into a quizzical jazz trumpet line from American Tom Harrell. On the Joe Zawinul-like Mein Versprechen Muthspiel plays electric piano. Maya, a gentle highlight, features his jazzy pointillist electric guitar.
In an interview Muthspiel describes himself as the minister of form and Youssef as the minister of passion. Here they form a wonderful coalition.
Michael Rofe, The Australian (2011-01)
Glow is the result of a meeting...
between the Austrian jazz guitarist, Wolfgang Muthspiel, and the Tunisian Oud player, Dhafer Youssef, and sees Youssef stepping away from the Norwegian scene he's been involved with on his last couple of albums.
Considering that Glow is an album that goes beyond words, or at least words that be easily understood, it's hard to know exactly what a reviewer can add to the experience beyond saying: 'Listen to its brilliance and treasure its beauty'. Much more would run the risk of asphyxiating in a vacuum of abstraction or drowning in a quicksand of pretension.
The music, by contrast, expertly spans the tightrope between the ancient and the present, the familiar and the unknown, fearlessly stepping into the void and filling it with sublime sounds and colours; take for example the awesome peaks Youssef reaches on �Babylon�, which sets his eerie and at times frightening Arabic stylings against In a Silent Way-era Miles Davis.
Davis�s influence can also be felt strongly on the fractured funk of "Sand Dance" and "Mein Versprechen" before the album moves into gentler, acoustic territory, but throughout the album, the shifting musical backdrop provides a powerful counterpoint to Youssef�s stunning vocals (for example on the hypnotic soundscapes of "Cosmology"), only really faltering with the rather genteel conclusion of "Rhaspodie".
Glow is prefaced with a quote from the mystical Sufi poet, Rumi, that reads 'I want to hold you close like a lute, so that we can cry out with loving. You would rather throw stones at a mirror? I am your mirror and here are the stones'. Perhaps in these lines, the musicians see a reflection of present-day global problems; if so, then in its incandescent musical compounds, Glow also suggests a rather different solution than throwing stones.
Tim Nelson (2007-10-26)
World music is a vague, pliable, record-industry term and its ambiguity is perfectly exhibited tonight. While
Tunisian singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef and Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel create music that
sounds deeply rooted in ancestral Sufi laments that would send Womad punters into raptures, they
constantly pull apart, embroider and restitch the form of each piece.
In other words, it is jazz.
Giving further credence to this sleight of genre is the fact that the repertoire, drawn largely from the duo's
fine new album Glow, suffers in no way from the absence of the trumpet, bass, keys and drums featured on
the studio recording. As well as extensively improvising, both musicians - whose former collaborators
include Miles Davis's percussionist Mino Cinelu and Wayne Shorter's drummer Brian Blade - sample, slice,
loop and distort phrases to fashion off-the-cuff beats and swooning textures.
In other words, it is ambient
Yet in the midst of their most technophile moments, both musicians retain an organic, sensual musicality.
Muthspiel, armed with electric and nylon string guitars, unfurls fleet, flickering arpeggios and tightly coiled,
intricate solos that often segue into muscular, primal bass lines.
Youssef's oud improvisations, mostly
favouring shorter, staccato lines that show the Moorish roots of flamenco, mark an effective contrast to
Muthspiel's more loquacious approach. But his real virtuosity is his voice, a spellbinding instrument lying
somewhere between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Bobby McFerrin.
Like the latter, Youssef has elaborate
methods of manipulating his tone, the high point of which sees him sing right into the bulbous body of the
oud to turn the room into an enchanted echo chamber.
Kevin Le Gendre (2007-11-13)