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MP3 Azigza - ROCK: Progressive Rock

Led Zeppelin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Gong, King Crimson and Kate Bush all went out one Progressive evening for a stroll. Dressed like San Francisco hippies and World travelers they were giggled at until folks heard the sounds they made. Why, it sounded

9 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Progressive Rock, WORLD: World Fusion

"Middle-Eastern influenced rock music with impressive electric guitar work merged with sitar, violin and tons of percussion, coupled with Jon Andersonish cosmic lyrics sung passionately by a talented female vocalist, rounded out with acoustic guitar, mandolin, harp and fretless bass and given the polished production job of pop music. Given just that description, I don''t know if I would have picked up this CD or not, but fortunately I got to see the band play at ProgDay and quickly became a fan. This is one of the poppier, catchier prog albums I''ve bought in a long while, but don''t mistake it for neoprog - there''s a lot of instrumental prowess and it doesn''t sound like your typical symphonic prog band.
Highlights include a great cover of Led Zeppelin''s "Friends" and the original "Zaman" (I love the spiraling guitar part that opens the song - this is a band that knows how to write a good hook)....."
review by Bob Eichler — 3-25-03 —

Azigza is a good example of a band that would not necessarily self-identify as progressive rock, but has been adopted by a community hungry for new, original, music; in the past two years they have played prog festivals in North Carolina, California, and Seattle. One of the first things that struck me about this band, compared to much of the modern prog scene, is how "professional" they are; most of the musicians are classically trained or have impressive "resumes", and the recording quality and mix on the album are excellent. The band takes influences of all kind; Aryeh Frankfurter is an accomplished Celtic violinist, and the band also pulls off the sounds of the Middle-East, Far East and Africa, particularly in the use of proper instrumentation with loads of percussion. The music stays rooted in the rock idiom mainly through the soaring vocals of Cyoakha Grace, who can be both powerful and ethereal. Two highlights are "Ratzinitza" and "Edallah ya Rashidi", traditional Bulgarian (thus, in 7/8) and Egyptian songs interpreted by the band. Also included is an excellent cover of Led Zeppelin''s "Friends".
However it is in the creation of new rock music that incorporates all the band''s disparate experiences and influences that Azigza manages to transcend most of the medicrity surrounding them in the prog scene. While the band is at its best in a live setting, this studio album is deservedly one of the most acclaimed from the year 2000, and offers an almost universal appeal to fans of progressive rock, even if that was not its intentional style. review by Sean McFee — 3-30-03 —

...The ''world'' sound to which Azigza obviously aspires is well achieved with Middle Eastern rhythms, Latin, African and Indian percussion, as well as cello, sitar, and DAEVID ALLEN, who appears on one track playing ''gliss guitar''. The guitar played by leader apparent Kevin Evans throughout the CD is often metallic and all over the mix, but this only serves to tie the ongoing eclecticism together. Come to think of it, the guitar and bass were probably my favorite elements of this album. The bass is strong and consistent, with a supportive quality and a tone reminiscent of Hansford Rowe on Expresso II. Lest the GONG fans jump to any conclusions, it is important to address the issue of context...My two favorite songs are the traditional Bulgarian and Egyptian pieces...
review by Gary Niederhoff — 3-7-03 —
The major pitfall facing most progressive rock bands that are heavily influenced by "world music" (by which we generally mean Middle-Eastern, Indian, African, and Native American musics) is that elusive enemy known as "disjointedness". Azigza have deftly avoided this problem, crafting an album that seamlessly meshes some very diverse influences into a hard-hitting rock-based style. The focus of attention might well be the percussion - with three accomplished full-time percussionists playing a very wide variety of instruments, there is always something interesting going on in the rhythm section, helped on by great fretless bass work that, superficially perhaps, brings Kopecky to mind. A heavy string presence brings in symphonic and Celtic elements, while guitar work, while usually not too forward, still brings a definite rock sound into the fray.
Vocalist Cyoakha Grace is the center of attention for much of the album, and her vocals are excellent: her voice is fairly deep, very smooth, and she effortlessly brings in various world influences (Native American, most notably) into her singing. Indeed, what impresses me most about this music is how seamlessly the various world, trance, and rock influences are woven into the music. The transitions between Celtic and Middle-Eastern sections in the wonderful instrumental "Ratzinitza" seem perfectly natural, for example....
This debut is not perfect, then, but it''s a very strong release and comes highly recommended (if you were disappointed by the much-hyped Private Power by Paranoise, you should definitely check this out!).

Progressive https://www.tradebit.com review
Reviewed by: Marcelo Silveyra, August 2002
The term world music brings to mind several images, among them one of watered-down ethnic music played by incompetent Westerners who seem to be searching for the East''s answer to new age. These idiots are usually responsible for taking all the spirit out of the music that they pretend to comprehend, and the end result is beautiful traditional arrangements gone to hell or pale imitations of the music of the world''s peoples; all topped by corny titles such as "Whispers From The Wind," "Spirits Of The East," or some other similarly ludicrous phrase. Well, let people who use music as nothing but a background soundtrack for their lives hold on to that rubbish, I''ll stick to Azigza instead.
Azigza is a relatively new outfit that embraces what has in recent years been defined as progressive world music; a meshing of prog rock and world music that draws from the trance-like qualities of traditional music and its instinctual energy and surrounds it with a rock veil that makes the result instantly effective and highly interesting. Recognized trailblazers Paranoise have already been reviewed here by yours truly before, and if that band and Azigza were ever to meet for one night, the result would be unforgettable (hint, hint), as the bands explore the same aural gallery and yet cover different sides of it, thus acquiring their very own identifiable character. In the case of Azigza, the side of the gallery is that of adapting world music and rock in order to produce a cohesive mixture of both, instead of setting unadulterated Moroccan samples against heavy riffs and rearranged traditionalisms.
Does the approach work? It does, and just as well as its "purer" counterpart does. Setting ethnic percussion against original music that sounds as if autochthonous from some distant mountainous desert tribe, and then bringing it up to date through an occasionally aggressive and occasionally atmospheric modernity, Azigza is an album that often brings the listener into an unconscious trance of vibrant dynamism. Add the excellent vocals of Cyoakha Grace, women''s answer to Robert Plant, and the album is resounding with an energy and instinctual honesty that is not lost on the listener...
There is nothing inherently wrong with the approach of Azigza, and the band''s unique brand of music is indeed enjoyable in its hypnotic quality. Unfortunately, however, the music also tends to meander at times, leaving its longest tracks particularly subject to a temporary loss of focus that dampens their otherwise absorbing nature. Even then, the impossibly appealing hypnosis of "Ratzinitza" and "Edallah Ya Rashidi," Grace''s stunning vocals on "Zaman," and a ravishing cover of Led Zeppelin''s "Friends" are sure to make this album a must-have for anyone interested in the development of progressive world music and the enormous potential it holds.
Rating: 3.5/5

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