steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
info opinion


"Safe" CD

Asphodel Records

763 Brannan St
San Francisco CA

May 2006

Safe is Badawi aka Raz Mesinai's second full-length release for Asphodel, and this time he enlists the help of a number of individuals, among them viola player Eyvind Kang, avant-guitarist Marc Ribot, and violinist Mark Feldman. The resulting album is a fifty minute instrumental excursion rooted firmly in dub, tabla, and jazz traditions. The whole album has a definitively cinematic feel to it, remarkably like a film score (epic "The Avenging Myth" has a lot in common with The Truman Show's soundtrack, notably). The desert-like mood is certainly an important element here, with the strings performers playing Middle Eastern melodies and Mesinai following tabla rhythms and adding mystical flute tunes. Post-performance processing is also key to Safe's success, with programmed atmospheres and electronic textures adding a lot to the record. The sweeping, longing title-track, for example, whisks by in a hazy trance, atmospheric ambiences carrying the track away in a veil of sky-like etherealness - it comes back down to Earth for the final minute or so, with improv strings and winds creating an Earthlike cacophony (safe?). "Sound On Its Eccoing" is more structured - its combination of strings and rhythm makes it the perfect soundtrack to a twilight desert trek. Overall, Safe is a triumphant assertion of talent and ingenuity from Badawi's Raz Mesinai. Four or more listens down the line and I'm still in awe of this wonderful piece of music. Terrific.


Fun Fact: Badawi is the last name of a number of famous people, including an Egyptian existentialist philosopher, the current Malaysian prime minister (as of May 2006), a Muslim scholar from the UK, a British newsreader, and a past minister of finance of Egypt.

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 13 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2004]