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The Habibiyya - If Man But Knew CD (album) cover

IF MAN BUT KNEW

The Habibiyya

 

Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.02 | 4 ratings

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Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
2 stars Kum bay ya my lord, Kum bay ya!

Coming back to the UK after a trip to Morocco this band felt deeply inspired by the meditations of Sufism. The search for god through a spiritual inner path. Well to be frank, I am far from being an expert on the subject, but I felt instantly intrigued by this band's history and how this record actually came into fruition. I've always had a thing for meditation (even if I myself have used music as my guiding beacon - drilling into the deeper layers of my cabeza), the focus on finding that peaceful place through a series of deep breaths, the ringing of some holy bells, the whole notion of leaving your body map, going to the next level - or whatever one would call such a thing: THAT interests me a great deal to say the least! I've always wondered where I go, when Pink Floyd's Echoes lets loose and Gilmour's playing suddenly becomes this wafting ethereal phoenix. I go somewhere that is for damn sure...

Anyway, coming into this release thinking it would be a psychedelic venture with all these Eastern touches and saucy esoteric bits that would have me levitating in a jiffy, - I felt enormously let down once popping it on the stereo. Yes, I got what I hoped for - as a matter of fact it seems to be all there: mumbling acoustic guitars that sound undetermined yet very effective - spiralling these individual pieces into orbit. On top of these spinning tops you are served with all kinds of endemic instruments - like the foghorn imitating oboe - or the gentle flute work that by contrast to the guitars - actually feel bound for something up there in the skies. You get banjo, the Japanese answer to the pan flute shakuhachi, something called a bina organ(?), mandola and a viola to boot. A regular smorgasbord of exotic instruments to take you on a magical journey through the Moroccan desert, or so one could easily hope for.

The rhythm section, and here I am using the term very loosely, because what we get in terms of beat enhancers here are the occasional clay pots and tambourine. The aim of these are completely lost on me - mainly for their inability to interact with the surrounding instruments. The result amounts to the sort of low-fi jamming you'd find at a forest hippie camp, where everyone apparently have been entirely more enthralled by the year old aged mushroom whiskey, than sprucing up the local rhythm section for the night's big sing along.

Keeping with the hippie camp image, I could very easily picture both the male and female vocalists doing a late night rendition of Kumbaya. That certain let's-get-together feel is all over the vocals here - with the hayaayyaa-haaamayyyammaaajjiiiaaahh and the shjaawaaaarmaaa-shhjjjioouuaaawaarmaaaa it all gets a little bit too much for me to tell you the truth, and this is coming from one of the biggest "hippie fans" out there. I just don't get the whole Kumbaya notion - sitting around holding hands for the hell of it - making the world a better place through rubbish music tomfoolery. What I do get is when the music of said era broke through the barriers and connected with people on an emotional level - just like Hendrix did at Woodstock, when he assassinated The Star Spangled Banner in plain sight. He played it beautifully, but he incorporated a lot of sorrow and hurt into it as well - drawing parallels all across the globe to the deepest darkest jungles of Vietnam. That I love and respect, - and I applaud the whole feel of that specific time. Not everything has to aspire to what Hendrix, or Miles for that matter, did. No, but I expect music that flirts with meditation and what I'd personally call the spiritual condition to be clouded in mystifying musical caravans of sweeping colourful notes and passages, but this one never leaves the ground the performing musicians are sitting on. Somehow it just doesn't ring true to me, and I'm kind of bummed out that it wasn't the high flying bird I was yearning for.

Guldbamsen | 2/5 |

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