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Shye Ben Tzur/Jonny Greenwood (Guitar/Composer)/The Rajasthan Express: Junun [Digipak]

Track List

>Junun [Madness of Love]
>Roked [Dance]
>Hu (He)
>Chala Vahi Des [Let's Go That Land]
>Kalandar [Ascetic]
>Eloah [God]
>Allah Elohim
>Ahuvi [Beloved]
>Azov [Let Go]
>Junun Brass
>There Are Birds in the Echo Chamber

Album Reviews:

NME (Magazine) - "JUNUN is a beautiful record....The record is even more gripping when the sounds of modern malaise and creeping paranoia that made Greenwood's name in Radiohead are pushed front and centre."

Pitchfork (Website) - "When Aamir Bhiyani's rhythmically crisp trumpet peals out over programmed and acoustic percussion during the first minute of the album's opener and title track, JUNUN establishes its celebratory side."

Album Notes

Personnel: Shye Ben Tzur (vocals, guitar, flute); Jonny Greenwood (guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, drum machine, computer, ondes martenot); Zakir Ali Qawwal (vocals, harmonium); Aamir Bhiyani, Soheb Bhiyani (trumpet); Ajaj Damami (trombone); Hazmat, Bhanwaru Khan, Sabir Damami (tuba); Chugge Khan (percussion).

Audio Mixer: Nigel Godrich.

Photographer: Ian Patrick.

Arrangers: Shye Ben Tzur; Jonny Greenwood .

Accompanying a documentary film by American director Paul Thomas Anderson, Junun is a cross-cultural collaboration between Israeli singer/composer/musician Shye Ben Tzur, British guitarist/composer Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead), and a group of Indian musicians dubbed the Rajasthan Express, along with producer Nigel Godrich. The album and film were recorded at the Mehrangarh Fort in the state of Rajasthan, India, and all of the songs were written by Ben Tzur, who resides in both India and Israel and composes qawwalis in Hebrew, Urdu, and Hindi. Ben Tzur's spirited vocals and devotional lyrics guide the proceedings, delivering universal messages of faith, hope, and unity; the final lines to the Hebrew-sung "Allah Elohim" translate as "To Jews I am a Jew, to Muslims -- a Muslim/In any tongue I speak/My language is one!" The music effortlessly combines the hypnotic rhythms and ecstatic vocals of qawwali (Sufi devotional music) with exuberant horns and Western elements such as guitars, keyboards, and drum machines (particularly on the bouncy, joyous disco-inflected standout "Roked"). Godrich's masterful production extends the echo a bit, taking it into the realm of the ethereal (particularly during the lengthy "Kalandar"), but it remains earthy and organic, letting the sounds of birds seep into the recordings, and showcasing the warmth and spirit of the music itself. Likewise, Greenwood adds his recognizable bass guitar pulse, as well as computers and synthesizers (including the ondes Martenot, an eerie-sounding early electronic instrument), but he is not the star of the show. The 19 musicians and singers who make up the Rajasthan Express are highly skilled at their instruments (including horns, percussion instruments such as dholak and bhapang, and stringed instruments sarangi and kamaicha) and qawwali choral vocals, playing precise arrangements while maintaining a relaxed, comfortable feel. The music feels spirited and ecstatic, but also down to earth and easily enjoyable by a vast range of audiences, regardless of religious persuasion or cultural background. Uplifting and joyful, Junun is an inspiring, resoundingly successful collaboration. ~ Paul Simpson


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