Azmari – Maelström (ENG review)

Sdban records – Street date October 20th 2023
World Jazz
Azmari – Maelström (ENG review)

Maelström, much like the famous cosmopolitan capital of Belgium, Brussels, resembles it like two peas in a pod—spicy and vibrant. It’s no surprise, considering that the Azmari group hails from this city. Once you venture beyond the city center, you can quickly find yourself immersed in Maghreb or Pakistani vibes. Brussels is a city that bears the brunt of Europe’s indiscriminate migration policy, which has created the intractable problems that Europe finds itself mired in today. Azmari has made the most of this situation, capturing its cultures and giving them much more than a vessel to traverse the world—a truly fascinating “jazzification.”
For Maelström, the follow-up to their acclaimed debut album Samā’ī (which received rave reviews in Uncut, Songlines, UK Vibe, and Electronic Sound), the group ventured into uncharted musical territories. They crafted an enchanting “azmari” identity by blending complex jazz textures with intoxicating oriental influences, bewitching Ethiopian rhythms, enigmatic dark funk, and the pulsations of dub music.
Getting lost and merging into this album, capturing its settings, intentions, and the group’s sonic exploration, is a blend of traditional instruments and cutting-edge synthesizers. It’s challenging to distinguish the real from the fake—a game of hide-and-seek with our ears. It’s a discreet yet highly effective display of inventiveness, something we also love, and it’s quintessentially Brussels—an invitation to a colorful and magnificent journey in Azmari’s land.
It’s not at all a mere calling card for accessing festivals, as is increasingly common in Europe. Here, it’s a deep-seated endeavor, an intellectual and artistic pursuit, a gaze cast upon the other and an elsewhere that seeks to reassure, delight, and befriend. So, take it! Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move proudly display our “Essentials” label on the cover too.
In 2021, I talked about their album Samā’ī, and here is the new article link.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, September 20th 2023


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