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Title - 'Nomad Songs' (ECM)
Artist - Stephan Micus

In his journeys all over the world, the multi-instrumentalist and composer Stephan Micus has set out to seek, to study and understand traditional instruments, the sounds that they produce and the cultures that brought them to life. He then composes original pieces for them, combining instruments that would never normally be heard together, chosen from different cultures simply for their character, texture and sonic beauty.

Ergo, that is what he has done here so elegantly on his latest album for ECM, Nomad Songs. Amazingly, this is his 21st album for ECM and more amazingly, he actually plays nine (9) different instruments on this, what has to be described only as definitive new album. Indeed, he even manages to emphasize two he hasn't used before: The first is the Moroccan genbri, a lute covered with camel-skin, played by the Gnawa in Morocco.

The second is the ndingo, a lamellophone similar to the kalimba, used by the San people in Botswana. These indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa have been pushed off their land and marginalized by the new nation states.

1. Everywhere, Nowhere
2. Leila
3. The Promise
4. The Stars
5. The Spring
6. The Blessing
7. The Feast
8. Laughing At Thunder
9. Sea Of Grass
10. The Dance
11. Under The Chinar Trees

Like most of you other Micus devotees, I have enjoyed him musical compositions for many years. In fact, the first CD I ever purchased was his Darkness and Light, and it is still a massive favorite of mine today. Listening to the 11 tracks here on Nomad Songs, it's obvious that Micus revels in improvisation, using these instruments in all manner of ways until a phrase seemingly strikes him as interesting. Such a phrase normally works as a seed for musical development and elaboration, one assumes, but here, well, he goes a few steps more to ensure that the finished tracks is whole, rounded, way more than just the seed it was born from.

As for the album's title, it's been said that Micus, who sees himself as a musical nomad, it refers to both the situation of people like the Gnawa and the San as well as his own way of working and living. In closing, I have now had a chance to intensely study Micus' most recent release, Nomad Songs, and can only speak of it in terms of immense superlatives. As, once you have heard it for yourself, you will too, of course.

www.StephanMicus.com

www.ECMrecords.com





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