The Beauty And The Sea
Released April 2008 Mintaka Recordings MINT003
Produced by Matt Howe & Joe Taylor
Executive Producer Graham Lawson
Photography Rob O'Connor Stylorouge, Design Stylorouge
Featuring Trilok Gurtu (Tabla, Kashishi), Kai Eckhardt (Fretless Bass), Ronu Majumdar (Bansuri Flute), Nandini Muthuswamy (Indian Violin, Vocals)
Released 2008 Mintaka Recordings
EP 4 tracks
Rosa, La Galana i la Mar, Komo el Pasharo ke Bola, La Pluma
Produced/Mixed Matt Howe
Executive Producer Graham Lawson
THE GUARDIAN Robin Denselow, Friday April 25, 2008
This album establishes the London-based Israeli singer Mor Karbasi as one of the great young divas of the global music scene, alongside the likes of Mariza or Yasmin Levy. Like Levy, she is an exponent of Ladino music, and the songs that survive from the late 15th century, when the Jewish and Muslim communities in Spain were expelled by the Christians. But Karbasi has her own, highly individual approach to the music, and she sounds as dramatic as she looks, switching effortlessly from songs that mix flamenco and North African influences, such as the opening track, Roza, through to old Ladino songs. Her voice is remarkable, mixing delicacy, power and control as she moves between rousing, harsh-edged songs and the spine-tingling subtlety of a quieter piece such as Nuestros Amores. Like many of the best new songs here, it was written by Karbasi herself, along with her impressive co-producer Joe Taylor, who also plays anything from guitar and bass to harmonium. This is surely one of the albums of the year.
fROOTS Ian Anderson, April 2008
Recently featured in our March issue, she was an intriguing discovery of last year through MySpace. Now this mesmerising debut album deserves to give London-based Israeli singer Mor Karbasi one of the world music hits of 2008.
Karbasi has an incredibly flexible voice, made the more impressive by the fact that she sings in quite a high range. She’s able to effortlessly switch from a breathy intimacy to that hard edged, intense open throated style that first hooked us on Bulgarian singers – particularly on the astonishing traditional Ladino Mansevo Del Dor (I Am A Modern Young Man) – pulling you deep into songs, taking the senses and emotions on an addictive roller coaster.
That would be enough, but equally masterful are the subtle arrangements and production by her partner, guitarist Joe Taylor, and Matt Howe. There’s a lot going on in some tracks – multiple acoustic and electric guitars, oud, mandolin, bass and more from Taylor himself, plus an international cast – European, Indian, Middle Eastern – of noted players of strings, percussion, woodwinds, and harmonium and harpsichord from Mor herself. It would have been very easy for this to have ended up as overblown and pompous, swamping the songs, but the opposite is the case: subtlety, texture, taste (but not the held-back variety), always supporting, surrounding and lifting the voice and the songs, keeping them central. Every listen reveals new details, makes a different song jump out (like, on this listen, the almost Mexican Komo El Pasharo Ke Bola).
And then add a wonderful set of lyric translations, interwoven with a great story by her mother, Shoshana Karbasi, all in a beautiful little eco-friendly (no plastic!) digipak. Everything about this album murmurs quality, attention to detail, so I’m almost embarrassed to mention that the track sequence doesn’t match the cover. Let’s put it down to the Persian carpet principle (real craftsmen would always put one mistake into the pattern, as perfection would be challenging God!).
With Yasmin Levy’s recent superb form in the Ladino field, maybe these two complementary, different but equally talented singers will spark some kind of genre boom as brand leaders. As they say, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but the coincidence of these two songbirds hints at heatwave.