Wednesday 3 February 2021

Avdey - Gates of Horn and Ivory (2021)

Country: Tunisia
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 20 Jan 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Here's something completely different, given that I couldn't resist the gorgeous cover art painted by Sponte Sequor and found the album behind it fascinating. It's progressive and it's psychedelic but in a very different way to anything I've reviewed at Apocalypse Later before.

The core of Avdey is in Tunisia, which means Mustapha Denguezly on guitars, synths, drums and other percussion and Adel Boujemaâ on bass. They play music that's easy to listen to but hard to categorise. There's world music here, but there's too much from outside the country to truly call it Tunisian. And I don't just mean western sounds, but other world sounds like the Mongolian throat singing early in Jaganmata.

The most obvious addition is new age music and this, the project's first album, seems to have many of the same goals, being spiritual and often ritualistic and/or trancelike. I'm sure people could meditate to this, though I couldn't, being too interested in what the instruments are doing. The reason I think it's so downright listenable is because it's also filtered through a soft jazz mindset into prog rock, so it's both familiar and utterly different at the same time. While it's always instrumental, it does bring in some samples and they're all in English, which helps keep it accessible to a western audience.

There's a third musician who's all over the album like a rash: Leonardo Ramos, who's a Salvadorean by birth and a Brazilian by upbringing, though it appears that he's another Irish music fan in southern Brazil, not far down the road in São Paulo from Tuatha de Danann in Varginha. He takes care of all the wind instruments here and there are plenty of those, from the expected flutes, whistles and ocarinas to more exotic fare like the xun and the xaphoon, the former an ancient Chinese instrument and the latter a recent creation known as the pocket saxophone.

In fact, while all three of these musicians are clearly identifiable at any point of the album, depending what you want to focus on, I'd suggest that Ramos is the lead. Denguezly's percussion and Boujemaâ's bass laying down textures for him to flutter around, like we'd normally expect a guitarist to do, such as on the solo album of travel-oriented mood music that I reviewed from Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles a couple of years ago. There are no overt guitar solos here, but there are plenty of solos on plenty of wind instruments.

Like that album, this one seems to travel, though I'm not sure of all the destinations, however much Google helped. An icaro is an indigenous South American healing song, so An Icaro clearly aims for a shamanistic healing sound. I'm assuming Yapa is South American too, most of the results I'm getting tying to Peruvian/Japanese restaurants. Jaganmata is the Hindu mother of the universe, so we're into Asia, though I'm not sure how far a Hindu mindset goes into Mongolia.

Zenith is a sort of destination, I guess, even if it's a movable one and I have no idea how we might get to it. Maybe we just "come along", which is the English translation of the Icelandic Komdu Með. This is the one piece of music featuring a fourth musician, who goes by Skuggasveinn. It's partially a vocal song and he provides the lyrics and the voice. And that leaves Hamartia, which isn't a place but a flaw, from the Greek for "to miss the mark". It's usually applied to tragic heroes like Hamlet and Oedipus. I hope we don't go there too often, but I guess at least we'd have to be heroes to do so.

One of my goals at Apocalypse Later is to find music that I haven't heard before, not merely bands or countries but styles and this one certainly fits that bill. I think I might just listen to it again before I move onto something more expected.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words and for the review. I'm Nidhal Boubaker aka 'Sponte Sequor'. I'm glad that my artwork made you discover this great album. I agree that it's meditative in nature. It was easy to get into a state of flow and lose track of time while painting and listening to it, and I intend to do it even on unrelated art ��