Album Review: Ariwo – Ariwo [Manana Records, June 2017]

Ariwo‘s eponymous EP may only be four tracks long, but the length of the tracks gives it more of an album feel and, indeed, one on an opus level. Bridging an extraordinary cultural and global gap, this quartet is one part Iranian and three parts Cuban and explores the rich crossover between Cuban rumba and Sufi mysticism.

Trumpet, percussion and synthesiser are all absorbed and interwoven in such a way as to create a mesmeric soundscape. It is hypnotic. Modern day trance music for the musically enriched. On Caldera, the sound of the trumpet and the effects used with it, lend an intriguing dubbed down quality, reminiscent of some of Kenny Wheeler’s ECM recordings. Indeed, this could almost be ECM’s attempt at producing some sort of EDM, especially with its acid infused accent.

The ethereal quality continues throughout, and through the electronic trickery of band leader, Pouya Ehsaei, the musical textures really take us on a journey. The opening two minutes of Gahambar has a real cinematic quality, as if it was tailored for a Sci-Fi blockbuster (think ‘Aliens’ or ‘Gravity’), with the percussion then pushed to the fore, bringing us back down to Earth and a camel ride across a desert or a donkey trek in the Mexican hills. This is true soundscape music: painting a picture with rhythm and tone.

This is music that truly challenges our notion as to how cultural and ancestral music should sound. It is a challenging fusion of familiar sounds, colliding to an unfamiliar effect. One is both transfixed and bound to listen and compelled to jump around at the same time.

‘Ariwo’ means noise in Yoruba- and what a stunning noise it is too.