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Azigza - Azigza CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.10 | 28 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It makes sense that I discovered AZIGZA purely by chance, while recently trolling the Internet. This is a band with the sort of global perspective not often heard before the age of the World Wide Web, and listening to their year 2000 debut album is like having a passport to a perfumed Middle Eastern oasis, or following the caravan trail across a wind-swept Central Asian plateau.

Never mind the supposed Celtic influence mentioned elsewhere on their pages here at Prog Archives. To me the group looks and sounds more like a post-modern folk ensemble from backwoods Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan, augmented with a fretless bass and lots of electric violins. But in fact they actually hail from an even more exotic cultural outpost: the San Francisco Bay Area, and as a native son in exile I can be excused for making a crack like that.

The six member line-up is for the most part devoted to playing obscure ethnic percussion and allsorts, but make no mistake: this isn't just another arid exercise in ersatz World Music anthropology. Underneath the colorful wardrobe, and even more arcane instrumentation (kanjeera, djembe, doumbek, and zils), beats a heart of genuine rock 'n' roll, strong enough to include an unlikely but energetic Led Zeppelin cover: the song "Friends", off the LZ III album.

The music is by turns lush and romantic, or sharp and jagged, but always with enough melodic appeal to sound relaxed and spontaneous even when the time signatures require a scorecard: check out the subtle, daredevil twists and turns of "Zaman". The mood is enhanced by the seductive vocals of Cyoakha Grace (singing in English, which only slightly spoils the album's rich, otherworldly flavor), and by some truly beautiful tunes, ranging from the dreamy, ethereal "Petra" (featuring GONG's Daevid Allen as a guest guitarist) to the sinuous Arabian Night groove of "Edallah ya Rashidi", and from there to the more contemporary, guitar-driven Prog sounds of "Remember" and "Glass".

It's hard to imagine a band like this existing a mere generation ago. But these days, with even the farthest horizon only a mouse-click away, the music of AZIGZA is the perfect companion for intrepid armchair travelers with an ear for esoteric rhythms and melodies.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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