Music Reviews


Jonas Hellborg

Aram of the Two Rivers: Live in Syria


Bass virtuosos have always fascinated me. I have a more than passing interest in the instrument, but I know I’ll probably never get past frat party level on my chops. Hearing Hellborg extricate these sounds from the thick strings makes me wonder if he’s not some sort of demonic half-organic machine, performing a myriad of calculations before lifting a finger to play not quite the thing you expected.

On this outing, Hellborg is joined by a group of talented Syrian musicians. The sound is most definitely traditional, and though the low rumble of bass should sound out of place with these instruments (somewhat equivalent to tambourines, flutes and violins), Hellborg’s light touch manages to impart his lines a decidedly liquid Middle Eastern tinge. Players take turns showcasing their skills, and these pieces are notable for all manner of virtuosity, not just Hellborg’s.

I haven’t heard a synthesis of sounds that hasn’t sounded, well, synthetic, in quite a long time. Hellborg’s forays into this music are something truly fascinating.

Bardo Records, 532 La Guardia Place #421, New York, NY 10001;

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