“I’m particularly pleased with the outcome and scope of the Siwan recording, an inspired meeting between musicians of the north and the south, a creative coming together of cultures. The potential of Jon Balke’s ideas and arrangements is, I believe, optimally realized in the architecture of the mix, which contrasts and finely balances very different yet strikingly compatible talents. Amongst them, Amina Alaoui, her voice conveying some remarkable poetic texts, the subtly powerful violinist Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche, Bjarte Eike’s twelve baroque soloists with strings and lute and harpsichord, master hand-drummer Pedram Khavar Zamini, and Jon Hassell, whose musical biography has long addressed the synthesizing of traditions.
In time, this music will be persuasively presented in concerts around the world, yet the recording itself, as the very first reference, is an unrepeatable event, of freshness and clarity, documenting the process of discovery.” - Manfred Eicher
Magical music, trailing deep roots. The listener is at first struck by the power of Amina Alaoui’s voice, soaring above Jon Balke’s remarkable compositions for baroque ensemble - with soloists drawn from jazz, scattered improvisational traditions, and the world of early music. Behind this remarkable musical integration is a web of philosophical, historical, and literary interconnections, as Balke and Alaoui set texts from Sufi poets, Christian mystics, troubadours and more and - inspired by the tolerant and creative spirit of medieval Al-Andalus - ponder what was lost to the bonfires of the Inquisition. Setting new standards in transcultural music, Siwan shows what can be made today when artists of the most divergent background pool their energies.