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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tunisian Soul, 3 Nov 2009
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
The Oud is an artefact of almost alchemical power.
A lute-like instrument of ancient Arabic heritage,
in Anouar Brahem's hands it both cuts like a knife
and soothes like a healing balm.

This album came my way by courtesy of a learned friend.
I am a newcomer to Mr Brahem and his music.
'The Astounding Eyes Of Rita' is a revelation.

The eight pieces in this collection are largely slow
in pace, reflective and almost hypnotic in their
power to engage both mind and emotion.

The inner workings of compositional and improvisatory
elements are seamlessly integrated in music of magical
complexity. It is an elusive and beguiling formula.

Klaus Gesing's bass clarinet must share equal credit
for the extraordinary sound-world created here.
It is a magnificent presence.
Bjorn Meyer's bass and Khaled Yassine's percussion
provide a solid but subtle rhythmic foundation.

A true ensemble exercise in every way.

Opening track 'The Lover Of Beirut' delivers some haunting
unison playing from Brahem and Gesing. The melodic material
takes its time to get under your skin and before you know
it you're inside the music looking out. A prisoner of beauty.

'Stopover At Djibouti' is a marginally more playful piece but
no-less lacking in intensity. The clarinet melody beginning about
two-and-a-half minutes in is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Lithe and slippery and entirely delightful. Brahem's mercurial
reply to Gesing's solo is equally breathtaking.

'Waking State' is a stunningly simple and exposed meditation.
At its heart an ethereal voice appears and
disappears like a ghost in the desert.
The stuff of true enchantment !

Final track 'For No Apparent Reason' finds an almost funky groove
and concludes the album on an eminently enjoyable upbeat note.

One of the finest recordings in any genre I have heard this year.

Essential.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars consistent pleasure, 14 Jun 2010
By 
David Chaney (newcastle upon tyne uk) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
Anahour Brahem has made a number of albums for ECM which have all had good features but inevitably some have appealed to me at least more than others. At first I really loved his oud playing and the musicians he was paired with in the eclectic ECM way but I had begun to feel well I know his work and perhaps I'm a bit jaded with it and for this reason I delayed for some time before buying this album. In the end I did and I am now very glad to have done so as this is the best for some time. It is consistent with his previous work but has all the strongest features and very little of the defects. All the musicians are excellent and work very well together, the material is entrancing so that the album repays hours of listening. It is quietly entrancing with wonderfully evocative soundscapes of langorous evenings and quiet sensuality.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars less is more, 6 Sep 2011
This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
My ears were introduced to this gem by a hi fi dealer when I purcahsed some new speakers recently (Jim at Audiolincs, could not rate him more highly - do your ears a favour). Within the first few seconds I knew this album was a eureka moment, like the first time I heard DSOTM or Appalachian Spring.
The emotional grip and evocativeness is out of all prpoprtion to the simplicity of the tunes. Its as if Anouar Brahems tunes are weaving a spell inside your head. It goes without saying that this is partly achieved by the superb musicianship and recording quality.
The disc can be listened to at a superficial level and enjoyed as background or mood music, but can also be listened to intently and it still delivers.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...a delicate sound, 4 Dec 2009
By 
PRF VICTOR GONCALVES "VSG, LISBON" (LISBON, PORTUGAL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
Like always, a sweet sound. Very elegant, indeed. Anouar Brahem is not only an excellent jazzman but he use delicate instruments to produce a delicate sound. Five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a continuing favourite, 5 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
We have a number of albums by Brahem, and have also been to a live concert (tingles in the spine stuff) at the Brighton festival. This album has been one of our favourites for a while now, which is why we have bought a couple of copies for treasured friends - both of whom love it. We listen to music every night in bed while reading and then falling asleep - and this is our current favourite. Soothing and space-expanding, varied yet unobtrusive, famiuliar yet never boring. Wonderful...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars astounding, 6 Jun 2010
By 
Dbwhite - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
Saw this crew in concert recently playing this album. It's heavenly and i can't reccomend it highly enough. A beautiful mix of instruments I wasn't hugely familiar with but will be making the effort to engage with more as a result of this gem.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effortlessly persuasive, 5 Jan 2010
By 
D. Rosam "David Rosam" (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
This is Brahem's masterpiece. Deep, slow and as someone else said, soulful.

It's fantastically mature music that just sucks you in, cossets you for a cd's worth and leaves you feeling all the better for it!

Brilliant stuff. Buy it!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, moving, melodious, 5 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
Bought "blind" on recommendation for a Christmas present, thoroughly enjoyed by all int he family, though our tastes could not be more different
Easy enough to tap into, but once tapped, it captures the imagination
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4.0 out of 5 stars Anuour Brahem does not disappoint, 28 Oct 2012
By 
CSC (Worcester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
If you are familiar with Anuour Brahem's music, this will not disappoint.
The musical journey I have followed in his music, from France,(Le Voyage de Sahar), to Northern Africa (Astrakan Cafe) and now to the Middle East (The Astounding Eyes of Rita)demonstrates for me, the brilliance of this musician and composer.
Besides which, the poem within the sleeve is worth the price, anyway.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "musical roots", 30 Jan 2011
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This review is from: The Astounding Eyes Of Rita (Audio CD)
Music that intrigues and satisfies on several levels - as sublime ambience, as evocative travelogue, as contrapuntal wizardry. At the calm centre is always the deeply resonant oud - that ancient ancestor of the lute and, ultimately, the guitar. Anouar Brahem has always surrounded himself with a carefully selected community of sympathetic musicians. In the 1992 "Conte de l'incroyable amour", with the clarinet of Barbaros Erköse and the nai of Kudsi Erguner and the bendir and darbouka percussion of Lassad Hosni. The 1994 "Madar" has the inimitable Jean Garbarek on tenor and soprano sax and the tabla of Ustad Shaukat Hussain. In the 1998 "Thimar" he is joined by John Surman on soprano sax and bass clarinet and Dave Holland on double bass. For the 2002 "Le pas du chat noir", there is the melodious piano and accordion of François Couturier and Jean-Louis Matinier respectively. Now, on this 2009 CD, comes a complete contrast; the bass clarinet of a new `star', Klaus Gesing, the bendir and darbouka percussion of Khaled Yassine and solid electric bass played by Björn Meyer. It is in mentioning these various combinations (and there are many others), that we appreciate the incredible spectrum of Anouar Brahem's creativity - not to mention the long-standing excellence of the ECM programme. It's almost as if each album is a movement in a suite that takes us traveling - around the Mediterranean world, of course, but also to the western fringe of Europe and to the early 20th century Paris of Matisse and Eric Satie.

In The Astounding Eyes of Rita we have returned once again to Anouar Brahem's poetic and cultural `roots'; for this suite of improvisations is a homage to Mahmoud Dawish - Palestinian `poet laureate' (1941-2008) - whose moving "Rita and the Rifle" is printed in the accompanying booklet. The political/historical overtones will, no doubt, escape many listeners; however the excellent music rewards repeated listening. From the first ringing tones of the oud, hanging in the air like the tolling of distant bells announcing "The Lover of Beirut", to the forward-dancing polyrhythms of "Stopover in Djibouti," this is a colourful and harmonious `trip' around a part of the world that is known to most of us only as torn apart by bitter strife. Reflecting on this superb work we may wish that the legislators of the world were more like Anouar Brahem.
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