Album: Anouar Brahem, The Astounding Eyes of Rita, (ECM)

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The Independent Culture

Albums as perfect as this appear rarely. Tunisian oud maestro Brahem has been one of ECM's most-revered artists for years, pioneering a superior kind of east-west fusion (although that makes it sound less interesting than it is).

But this quartet recording beats anything I've heard from him yet. Dedicated to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, the album's eight originals trace a continuous arabesque, wind and strings intertwining against a trance-like rhythmic pulse, which at times gets heavy enough to recall Massive Attack's remix of Nusrat.