родина (rodina) is the second release from the St. Laurent Piano Project which was recorded on a winter morning at Sala Rossa concert hall in Montréal. Released on 12″ vinyl by the Howl! arts collective packaged in a delightfully fancy cardboard silk screeened package, Rodina is an exploration between Sam Shalabi on oud and Stefan Christoff on piano.

Vinyl LP £14.99

LP on Howl! Arts Collective.

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родина (Rodina) by Sam Shalabi + Stefan Christoff
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8/10 Brian 31 July 2014

Very intriguing and gorgeously packaged record here from the multi-talented Sam Shalabi and Stefan Christoff who I am unfamiliar with (until today).

Basically a collaborative play-off or improvised jam between guitarist Shalabi on the Oud (a pear-shaped acoustic guitar/mandolin-like instrument) and Christoff on incredibly well-matched and sympathetic ivory-tinkling duties.

The instruments seem to go extremely well together timbrally and as exotic and freeform as the record could be, there appears to be a very accessible structure and celestial flow to the music which brings to mind the more cerebral raga-ish elements of John Fahey, James Blackshaw and Richard Bishop with the tentative and often lovely contemporary piano of Hauschka or earlier Nils Frahm.

'Vardar River Song' sees Shalabi's mesmerising oud playing dominate whereas the shorter 'To Sophia' is a solo piano piece of highly emotive and ridiculously pretty proportions. 'One Oud' on S2 is just what it says. Lovely piece. I feel like I'm in a near-deserted market square in an Arabic country on a blazing hot sunny day listening to some nimble fingered little genius all unflustered by the heat and spiritually nourished whilst I roll around sweating, eyes rolling, tongue lolling, uttering crazed gibberish.

It segues effortlessly into the stunning 'Along Treska', another epic piece about a Macedonian river. This magical day-dream of a tune concludes my most soothing and warmly involving record this week. True exotic classicism from beginning to end. I'm rather temped to own one of these, the silk-screened sleeve is worth the price alone!


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