Various Palace Of The Winds

Various Palace Of The Winds
Showcasing several unique bands from the Western Sahara, Morocco and Mauritania, Palace of the Winds is a new film from revisionist field-recordists Sublime Frequencies. As with the Seattle imprint's other DVD output, those expecting a documentary full of anthropological findings will be disappointed, or at least confused. Here you are confronted by a wide-eyed barrage of beautifully intense images: urban scenes, vacant desert landscapes and, most importantly, footage of riveting live music. Like Congo's Konono No. 1's approach, each of the bands here play a hotwired brand of traditional music. Group Doueh (whose full-length is also out on the label) are captured in a candid performance — seated on some couches. Leader Doueh's searing fretwork (inspired by Hendrix but evocative of Neil Young's ragged glory) is set against richly ornamented and interwoven vocals. Group Marwani, filmed with their shadows looming large on the walls around them, offer some insidiously (accidental?) psychedelic sounds — soulful vocals are shot through echoes while the guitarist generously applies this region's effect of choice: phaser. The total experience, disjointed and difficult to describe, adds up to one of the best Sublime Frequencies releases yet. Its vibrant take on field recording is also a refreshing shift away from an approach that can risk casting musicians as mere specimens. (Sublime Frequencies)