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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

ANOUAR BRAHEM

By Derek Beres
Published April 26, 2006

Le Pas Du Chat Noir
ECM

There’s something beautiful about silence, and Anouar Brahem says it exquisitely on Le Pas Du Chat Noir. Translated as “The black cat’s footsteps,” the title offers a perfect interpretation of what’s been recorded: a slow, roving alchemy of oud, piano and accordion transformed into melodic mastery. Much more subtle than his previous Astrkan Café, yet equally expressive, Le Pas Du Chat Noir is a slow journey through an unconscious dream, a stoic walk through Brahem’s affluent mystique. Based on his piano sketches–later played by Francois Couturier–Brahem layered the oud within a last unique addition, Jean-Louis Matinier’s accordion. It’s the album the Gotan Project didn’t remix, a hybrid of Middle Eastern quietude with eastern European classical sensibility. Le Pas Du Chat Noir falls into many categories, subsequently excluding each from its title. In the end, what matters most is Brahem’s continual creative excursions finding the undertones of tradition in a modern world, filling in silence with learned levity.