Dhafer Youssef & Wolfgang Muthspiel Glow Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Listen to its brilliance and treasure its beauty.

Tim Nelson 2007

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.

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