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Friday, December 16, 2011

Badawi - The Heretic of Ether

Band: Badawi
Album: The Heretic of Ether
Year: 1999
Style: Ambient, Middle Eastern, Illbient
Similar Bands: John Zorn, Secret Cheifs 3
"One Word" Review: Environmental-Gypsy-Soundtrack
Based Out Of: Jerusalem / NYC
Label: Asphodel
The Heretic of Ether - Cover & Record
The Heretic of Ether - Back & Record

The Heretic of Ether (1999)
  1. Intro 1:17
  2. Tired Soldiers 5:44
  3. A Voice from Six Corners 2:49
  4. Santur 1:16
  5. Enter the Heretic 3:58
  6. Fatal Confrontation "The Death of Gashka Gavor" 1:29
  7. Enterance 3:23
  8. Arrival 5:57/
  9. Fatal Confrontation "Gashka Meets the Gate Keeper" 1:34
  10. Welcoming 5:23
  11. Falling 3:11
  12. Fatal Confrontation "Revisited" 2:10
  13. Return of the Heretic 6:11
  14. Awakening 4:45
Album Rating (1-10): 5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Erik Berglund - Composer
Hank Deckon - Composer
Ralph Farris - Violin (Ethel)
Raz Mesinai - Arranger, Keyboards, Percussion, Producer (Sub Dub)
Ashton Worthington - Design
Erich Schoen-Rene - Cello
Mixture 151 - Mastering

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of Badawi. From the name alone, I’m imagining that this is going to be some sort of Hardcore. And with the name like Heretic of Ether along with the scratch font and the b/w photography, I am further convinced that this will be hard core / metal.

Album Review: So I’ve researched and read upon this artist, and understand that this is nothing like Hard Core. It is instrumental Middle Eastern and Yiddish themed world music with a very ambient production, as it was recorded live in studio minus turntables or samples, according to Allmusic. Along with the artist’s background in dub step and reggae DJ, it should be an interesting listen. And since it is a themed concept album, I’m going to review it minus the tracks, pointing out highlights and notable sections.

Humming and what sound to be bagpipes start out the album. The composition is already a very atmospheric humming, like flying around clouds at a 15 frames per second scene. The repetition and grueling progress of the Middle Eastern instrumentation weaves an overworked web: “Tired Soldiers” works well as the title. The hum and intensity grow and show no end in sight. A deep cello finishes out to be followed by a buzzing bee sound. Beautiful and exotic Arabian picking echoing with a natural imperfect warbling follows, which is transplanted with calculated yet frantic piano playing on the next track. Rapid driving percussion begins and subsides leaving room for electronic, static bass and more Middle Eastern melodies, reminding me of something I could expect from Mike Patton (as I have a very small frame of potential comparison for this musical genre). Rapid and rolling tribal steel drum percussion makes up the next track. What feels like a reprise of the album’s buzzy beginning takes the record in a gyrating, and pressure building direction, like tension before an explosion. Sad violins take over, but the background hum/buzzing still remains. This has created the mental image of finding a rotting corpse of a loved one lying next to an open street gutter down a disused back alley in a foreign village.

Bongos of different percussive sounds rapidly beat to begin side two in a swirling rhythm that feels it may teeter over at any second. When it ends, deep warbling strings are played. There is a fine line here between Middle Eastern stand up bass and Mexican sixth string guitar play, and I can’t figure out which it sounds more like at various points, but either way it is a very percussive dance. I’ve never thought that Mexican and Arabic music could be similar or indistinguishable until now. Out of nowhere is a beautiful and magical tubular or xylophonic bell. This ends quickly, and is followed by a growing feedback of a violin string sound. In other words, more of the building buzzing sound. The final “Fatal Confrontation” succeeds, and as all the predecessors, it is all a rapid percussive dance. Following the dance is a gloomy castlevania-esq gothic string section, which, when added to with a steady, repetitive heavy bass beat and bongo percussion, takes a turn toward gypsy style. As this song nears the end, there is some sort of keyboard instrumentation that demands an anger and urgency, which stops abruptly and allows the record to finish in a sad story told by a violin.

"Stand-Out" Track: Enter the Heretic

Raz Mesinai

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