Digital Prophecy by Dhafer Youssef

«Tunisia-born singer and oudist Dhafer Youssef should be recording for ECM. His albums have a similar spiritual, centered quality to the work appearing on that label, and his work on this album with some of Norway’s top jazz players points completely in that direction. He lives very much on the cutting edge, taking things even further than he did on 2001’s Electric Sufi. Where that album used electronica as the periphery of the music, here he brings it to the heart of the sound, integrating it seamlessly into his compositions, as on “Aya,” where a seemingly found sound becomes the heartbeat of the track. His collaborators, including trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær, offer him plenty of space, and that’s what the music needs — it’s as wide open as the Tunisian desert. He’s a good player of the oud, but his real weapon — apart from his sense of composition — is his voice, with a range that’s truly stunning, and never put to better use than on “Dawn Prayer,” where his high notes, seemingly impossible, stand as a revelation, with an aching melody that just stays in the brain. At the same time as Youssef pushes at the edges in his work, there’s a sense of the music still being very centered in North Africa. On the basis of this, Youssef is extending his cutting edge even further.» (AMG)

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