Khyam Allami – Resonance/Dissonance

Album: Resonance/Dissonance
Artist: Khyam Allami
Release Date: June 2011
Genre/Region: Middle Eastern

The oud (Middle Eastern lute) is a beautiful instrument to begin with, but when combined with Khyam Allami’s musical sensitivity, it is divine. Resonance/Dissonance is the debut album of a young artist who has already had quite an amazing career. With degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies, he has gone on to be the first recipient of the World Routes Academy scholarship from BBC Radio 3 and a world class performer.

I attended Khyam’s album launch on May 4th and was impressed. He ran through each track in order and offered a beautiful preview of the upcoming album (which was to include a DVD of performances). I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of his album. When I finally did, I was not disappointed.

Though this is Khyam’s debut album, he did not treat it as such. It is bold and ambitious. Risky for a first release, it was a risk worth taking. Khyam’s solo oud weaves poetic melodies, at times dark and soulful. Joined by percussionist Vasilis Sarikis, Khyam pieces together an album that is meaningful and intense. His website states, ‘conceptually, it is filtered through a life in London influenced by myriad figures; the work of C.G. Jung, the mysticism of Jorge Luis Borges, the independence and forward thinking of Frank Zappa, and Secret Chiefs 3, the ingenuity of various masters of Middle Eastern music such as Hossein Ali Zadeh, Naseer Shamma and Riyadh al-Sunbati.

As an album with such a range of inspirations, it comes as no surprise that it takes the listener for a ride through a variety of emotions. A quiet and thoughtful beginning, the album opens with the track ‘Individuation’. Building upon a very simple and yet elegant melodic theme, the track is pensive but not calm. Then the album moves through semi-improvisations that are all as intense and thoughtful. It features graceful moments of simplicity as well fiery passages of virtuosity. Ultimately, the album rests and reflects with final track, ‘Reverie.’

If this all sounds like flowery, over-indulgent praise, have a listen for yourself. Khyam is not only blessed with a virtuosity for which all musicians strive, but a sense of musicality and musical passion that cannot be learned.

You can hear a preview of the album on Khyam’s website: www.khyamallami.com

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