Oct. 25th 2011: the most interesting world fusion
One of the most interesting world fusion groups in the United States is Mawwal.
-World Music Central
Oct 9th 2011: one of the best I have heard
Sight Up is a world fusion album and it is one of the best I have heard. And the best part for me at least, is the exceptional melodies sprinkled over the entire album, like a layer of goodness just waiting to be absorbed.
-Sea of Tranquility
Sept 14, 2011: a rewarding listen
Sight Up is an album that doesn't sound like much of anything else, a combination of sounds Eastern and Western held together by the lyrical glue of Matus' visions. It's a disc full of accomplished musicians delivering sounds that channel a wide-ranging brand of mysticism, and a rewarding listen.
February 14, 2009 : in Matus this all combines to a great totality
Whether its Middle Eastern percussion tribal rhythms from Africa or Klezmer influences in Matus this all combines to a great totality. The end result is not western music with a folkloristic character but rather, here different beginnings are fused The guitar may howl measures become oblique but finally the common rhythm according to which all people pulsate unites everything
- progressive newsletter
October 01, 2008 : magically mesmerizing
Unconventional, fantastical and delightfully extravagant, Mawwal’s This Is All There Is There Is No Other Place is magically mesmerizing
- World Music Central
September 15, 2008 : rebellious, bold and independent
Mawwal’s messages have a subtle political bent, and their daring music also displays something rebellious, bold and independent. It’s nice to see melodic creativity that incorporates elements of adventure, excitement, challenge and danger
- Joe Ross/Independent reviewer
September 01, 2008 : Jill O’Brien’s haunting vocals soar
Taking the title from a passage by Terrence McKenna on transcendental revelation, Jim Matus (also of Paranoise) and company have prepared a world-beat platter that is a big step forward from previous efforts, particularly regarding focus and execution of intent. Concentrating on Middle Eastern and central Asian musics, Mawwal has practically created a neo-trad subgenre, a sort of ethno-specific folk that utilizes authentic instruments (djembe, laouto, saz), but isn’t allergic to the occasional infectious occidental rock groove. Jill O’Brien’s haunting vocals soar, whether supporting Matus’s chesty tenor or while soloing. Violinist Rohan Gregory lays down a fiery solo on “Bela Sehida (Land of the Martyrs).” “Allah Hu (Only God)” features a furious Harshal Tole tabla cadenza, and none other than Percy Jones delivers his trademark slippery fretless bass work on three cuts. By focusing on the music of war-torn regions in the greater Near East, and that of stateless peoples from that same region, Mawwal -- as with most of Matus’s efforts -- serves as a conscience for those privileged few whose status draws from the exploitation of the not-so-fortunate many
- John Patrick/Progression
August 01, 2008 : I could listen to this over and over forever
All taken, this is an excellent second step; I could listen to this over and over forever!
- Peter Thelen/Expose
July 15, 2008 : faultless laouto, saz and mandocello work
The songs are traditional of the Afghanistan, Pakistan regions and they have been arranged here by Jim Matus, creating a style that pulses energy and radiates warmth and tranquility, forming the heart of the Mawwal sound. This core sound is driven by faultless laouto, saz and mandocello work, accompanied by excellent tabla and violin mastery. The bass and drum work steers the fusion of East and West, and the vocal only edges the compositions further into a cultural understanding.
- Aural inovations
June 01, 2008 : Feed Your Head
From the first track, listening to Mawwal this is all there is there is no other place is like absorbing some bizarre hallucinogenic compound through your armpits in a Waziristan sweat lodge. Drawing heavily on traditional Middle Eastern South Asian music and academic icons like Joe Zawinul and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan the contemporary arrangement of these rooted in tradition pieces is well seriously cool. Stringed-instrumentalist/vocalist and Mawwal mastermind Jim Matus has gathered a band of musically-possessed individuals that includes deep, entrancing subsonic fretless bassist Joe OBrien, semi-tone vocalist Jill OBrien and violinist Rohan Gregory. Percussion is provided (in the form of drums, tablas, djembes, dumbeks and many other instruments) by a host of schooled professionals and world travelers including Harshal Tole, Mike Keyes, Shane Shanahan and the ever-present Tony Vacca.
Mawwals old new fusion has overtones of Peter Gabriel or Paul Simon mining African and South American musical paradigms, though it seems to incorporate mostly Pakistani and Afghani influences. There are elements of aboriginal chant as well; though there is nary a didgeridoo on the record, there are droning, Tuvan throat-singing vocals that simulate the trance-like qualities of that instrument. It is music that breathes, and quite palpably, like the walls of my dorm room did one day many years ago, in an isolated Vermont boarding school. The whole seems heavily influenced by the psychedelic, in the intense, spiritual sense of the term. This is evidenced not only by the CD cover art—photos of freak rock formations called "fairy chimneys," from the Cappadocia region of Turkey—but also by their quoting Terrence McKenna on the CD insert. McKenna theorized worlds that were all but imperceptible without the aid of psychedelics, and had some pretty smart stuff to say about it all: "Right here and now, one quanta away, there is a raging universe of active intelligence that is transhuman and hyperdimensional. The true situation in which we are embedded is an organism, an organization of active intelligence on a galactic scale." Mawwal have certainly captured this vibe, and if its one you like to connect to, you will dig the hell out of these folks.
- Tom Sturm/Valley Advocate
February 24, 2008 : Mawwal is the product of a firmly grounded vision
Mawwal is the product of a firmly grounded vision. Band mastermind Jim Matus weaves traditional lyrics from Bulgaria, Libya, Sufi songs, and Malinke chants into lush rock arrangements. At the same time, he casts the music against a backdrop of radical political dissent, and roots it in compassion, brotherhood, and anger”. / HARTFORD ADVOCATE
- Dan Barry/ Hartford Advocate
January 01, 2008 : This was world fusion the way it should be done
I don’t know why I did not slide this one into the player the moment it arrived. Boom! Right off the bat it grabbed me with drums the size of a continent massed vocals and a bit later electric guitar and bass. And that bass! The unmistakable sound sent me running for the credits, yes, there it was: Percy jones. By the time the electric violin entered I was hooked. This was world fusion the way it should be done.
- Jon Davis/Expose
December 01, 2007 : nothing short of spectacular. a fascinating brew
For the first impression of Black Flies its hard to get beyond wow! For me this is what progressive music is all about. For my taste this is album is just about perfect in every way. The compositions are intricate and engaging and the musical performances are nothing short of spectacular. a fascinating brew. Bumping this album off my Best of 2007 list this year will be quite a feat. Black Flies is essential!
- Gibraltar Encyclopedia Of progressive Rock
November 15, 2007 : Mawwal’s world fusion is peerless
Mawwal’s world fusion is peerless in its passion and delivery
- Mac Beaulieu/Expose
August 20, 2007 : Percy Jones’s fretless growl
“Woven among Libyan folk melodies, Tuvan overtone “throat singing,” and Pakistani qawwali performances, Percy Jones’s fretless growl buttresses this assembly of compositions and arrangements by sonic architect Jim Matus. Percy’s earthy tone and free-flowing phrasing are exceptional throughout. Jones and the album’s other bassist, Tyler Van Ostrand, square off on Yurodivy, trading some the tastiest bass licks in contemporary fusion”.
- Brian Fox/Bass Player magazine
August 01, 2007 : THE RESULTS ARE SPECTACULAR
If you have any familiarity at all with the explorations of Peter Gabriel into the music of other cultures, MAWWAL is what that could have evolved into, pushed further by a quantum leap. Black Flies is at once experimental and passionate. Traditional pieces from Libya, Syria & Yemen are explored and then blown wide open with amazing arrangements by Jim that allow western perspectives to swim and mingle in such an intense yet flowing way. The results are spectactcular. I would urge anyone reading this page to check out MAWWAL (as well as his other band PARANOISE). This CD has captivated me for more than one evening and it might just snare you too!
- Ray Dorsey/Chaos realm
May 15, 2007 : for fans of Peter Gabriel
"For fans of Peter Gabriel’s brand of world music, Mawwal should be the next step, as this is the most advanced fusion of Middle Eastern and western progressive music we’ve heard."
May 01, 2007 : the epitome of world fusion
"Their sound is thick and abundant, often stormy and always impassioned and intense. Black Flies is truly a hearty feast for the ears. Mawwal embodies the epitome of world fusion while still winning the hearts of any purist with their treatment of culture and tradition from East to West.” FIVE STARS
January 06, 2004 : Mawwal takes world music in an entirely new direction...
"Inspired by musicians like Peter Gabriel, Karsh Kale, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Yousou N'Dour and Hamaza el Din, Mawwal takes world music in an entirely new direction. The music manages to sound familiar yet new. Matus and his fellow musicians blend elements of folk, jazz and groove rock with traditional indigenous sounds and textures. Inventive vocal arrangements in Arabic and English weave through an ensemble of laouto (Greek lute), violin and traditional percussion on tabla, dumbec, frame drum and riq to creat music unlike any you have heard before".
- Sheryl Hunter (critic, The Recorder, Greenfield, MA)
January 05, 2004 : Mawwal is musically bedazzling.
"Mawwal is musically bedazzling. Jill O'Brien's angelic voice transcends language with emotion and takes you on a journey around the world. Ken Matarazzo on percussion is smokin' and demonstrates that rare balance of skill, training and improvisational creativity. Jim Matus, on loauto has a talent to draw magical melodies out of the air. He can weave a spell and put people into a trance. Joe O'Brien's enjoyment of what he's doing shows in his smile as his bass fills out the sound. Playing music that touches us and makes us get up and dance, Mawwal is truly music of the people. "
- Hadama (The Crescent Dancers)
January 01, 2003 : an astonishing blend of traditional and contemporary styles
“Mawwal is an astonishing blend of traditional and contemporary styles of music, of eastern and western influences. It is music that appeals to head, heart and body - melodic and catchy as it is sublime, hypnotic- and it makes you want to move! Mawwal reharmonizes traditional melodies from around the world into an original and fascinating new genre of world‚ music - groove-oriented bass and drums, the gorgeous harmonies of Jill O’Brien and Jim Matus, and stellar counterpoint of the Laouto (greek lute). It rings true to its sources yet expresses an original voice and vision through its trance-inducing, enchanting spell.” -Jim Cole
- Jim Cole/The Gathering Room