Baraka – Samo Remix – Contemporary jazz interpretations of ancient Sufi music (Sketis Music, 2016)
World music band Baraka remixed traditional Pamir music recorded by folk band Samo and the result is Samo Remix. While Samo provided vocals and traditional acoustic instruments from the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, Baraka added electronic keyboards, electric guitars, bass and additional percussion.
Although this a remix, it’s not an electronic dance music recreation. Instead, Baraka inject contemporary jazz and trip hop. The remix also includes three rappers on a handful of pieces. I usually find rapping extremely annoying in world music albums. Thankfully, the rapping by Mister Ruslan is essentially spoken word, which fits much better with the world jazz arrangements.
Baraka is based in the Baltic nation of Latvia. They are known for performing world music with a jazz edge, combining Central Asian music with jazz improvisation and electronics. The Samo Remix project came about when Baraka ensemble leader Dmitry Yevsikov traveled to Tajikistan in 2015. There, Samo played a home concert for him and Baraka was given a CD with Samo’s music and made a promise to respond to it. Samo Remix is the answer, a European tribute to the sounds of the Pamir.
“We decided to preserve the original vocal line in most compositions in its entirety,” explains Dmitry Yevsikov. “If possible, not to cut vocals into bits, so that even in the new arrangement those who speak the language could hear the Sufi message that comes through the ages.”
The Baraka musicians who created Samo Remix include Dmitry Yevsikov on mridangam, ghatam, darbuka, tabla, congas, bongos; Devika Yevsikova, his daughter, on vocals, Chapman stick, fretless bass, and bass guitar; Viktor Rytov and Artem Savry on Rhodes piano; Yegor Kovaykov on guitar and badakshani setor; Artur Kutepov on guitar; Denis Pashkevich on tenor saxophone; and Raivo Stasans on soprano saxophone.
Samo means “sky”. It’s a group of musicians from the Pamir, who started performing together in 2006. Their permanent headquarters is the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments in the city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. There, instruments are on display, Samo’s rehearsals are held, and recordings are made. Samo perform in the museum regularly and at other venues. They toured in Germany in 2008 and the United States in 2009.
Samo perform the ancient music of the Pamir, based on the verse of the classical Persian poets: Rumi, Hafiz, Sherazi, and Khayyam. Their lyrics’ often focus on the spiritual path, described in metaphors and symbols. Their performances are mystic in nature and both musicians and the audience might slip into a trance-like state during the live shows. The Samo Group lineup includes Shavqmamad Pulodov on setar, rubab and vocals; Faizmamad Nazariev on rubab, tanbur and vocals; Shanbe Mamadgaminov on ghijjak, nay and vocals; Daler Pallaev on daf, tablak and vocals; and Qurbonhaseyn Alishaev on daf, tablak and vocals.
The rappers are Mister Ruslan, Imomdod Orifov, and Alijon Boynazarov
Samo Remix is a fascinating international collaboration featuring European musicians, a Tajik folk ensemble and rappers, released by a Russian record label.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.