Celebrating the founder of Islam with R&B-styled singers and boy bands might sound a little bizarre, but it's really no weirder than the concept of Christian metal, and what could be an awkward culture clash actually slides together very well. There's a welcome unplugged sparseness to the tracks — mostly just singing and hand percussion — and a number of surprising left turns, as on the Aa'shiq-al-Rasul cuts that recall Gregorian chant or "Tala Al-Badru 'Alayna" from Shaheed Alkwan, which contains echoes of Polynesian choirs in its odd rhythms and eerie harmonies. When this does hit straight ahead R&B (I-man's "Muhammad Mustafa," for instance, or Khaleel Muhammud's "Follow Muhammud") it does so with a beautiful sophistication — think a mature Boyz II Men. You can even ignore the religious message and just relax into the lush pillow of voices. There's certainly nothing wrong with working on several levels — and this compilation definitely does.
By Wondering Sound Staff on 12.11.14 in Features
Five music critics discuss the best, worst, and most significant moments in Latin music this year.
By Michaelangelo Matos on 12.08.14 in Reviews
For all the quality mining of African oldies over three and a half decades, it's not as if the coffers have been exhausted. Far from it, especially judging from this nonstop display of one of the great bands of the Congo...
By Claire Lobenfeld on 11.29.14 in News
Spice, Jamaica's queen of dancehall, is gearing up to release her debut EP So Mi Like It. With her contribution to Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop," another bananas collab between the two called "Conjugal Visit" and her most...
By John Schaefer on 11.24.14 in Reviews
In this 50th-anniversary romp through Terry Riley's In C, a brilliant ensemble of Malian musicians (mostly playing traditional instruments) joins forces with Damon Albarn, the globetrotting frontman of Blur and Gorillaz;...