The Montpelier Times Argus, Nawal's music is truly exotic >>
Nawal's music is truly exotic
July 6, 2007
By Art Edelstein Arts Correspondent
If you've got a desire for something a bit different musically speaking, then catch Nawal, and her trio at Middle Earth in Bradford on Thursday, July 12. This is music from a country so exotic and distant that most people have no idea it exists or where it's located. 07/06/07 >> go there
Nawal's home is the Comoros Islands, four dabs of land in the Indian Ocean situated between continental Africa and Madagascar. She's the first Comorian woman to perform publicly with an instrument.
Here is a nation, formerly a colony of France that has been visited by sailors from many other places in the Indian Ocean. Africans, Persians, Indians, Indonesians, Arabs and the French have all stopped off here when the winds were blowing in their direction. Over time Comorians took on aspects of the varied cultures, languages, religions and music that visited them.
Nawal's album, “Aman," highlights the many influences bearing on this performer's musical style and her homeland. If one has to categorize what flows from this CD it would best be categorized as acoustic-accompanied songs and almost trance-inducing chants.
Nawal's music is the product of the many influences brought to the islands over many cen-turies. You'll find sounds of Africa, the Middle East, France, Turkey, Persia, as well as her native islands in this music. There's even a sprinkle of English in the lyrics to give it a really international flavor.
Nawal, who was partly raised in France, plays the gambusi, which has a sound somewhere between a banjo and the Arabic oud. Needless to say, you won't find one of these instruments in local music instrument stores or on eBay any time soon. It's a plunky sound and used to accompany her lilting vocals. She also plays guitar. On stage, contrabass, percussion, and the mbira or thumb-piano back Nawal.
Nawal is a member of a Sufi religious sect and adapts the sect's chanting technique, best described as a cappella repetitive chanting. Several of the tracks on Aman reflect this style.
This interesting performer also sings in French and occasionally adds some English to her songs. The result, on CD, is a unique sound, best described as "world music."
You'll have to make the leap of faith that Nawal, while performing music generally unfamiliar to our ears, is very good at what she does. Beyond the exotic music in her repertoire there's the opportunity from her performance to sample a very different cultural brew from the Comoros Islands without having to take a long and expensive flight to get there.