Artist: Jurica Jelic
Release Date: 2015 Sept 13
Genre: World Music
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: SuRRism Phonoethics
This has to be one of the most surprising releases I’ve heard in the past four or five months for me. It’s not jazz, electronica, pop, rock, classical, or any of the music that I get a lot of during my wanderings on the intertubes. In fact, the primary focus of this release is the bass sintir. Don’t know what a sintir is? Well, read the rest of this review of Jurica Jelic: Fragments to find out more.
Jurica Jelic: Fragments
So, just what is a bass sintir? It’s an instrument of Arabic origin that features three strings strung across a hollowed-out wooden body which has been covered by a piece of camel skin. The camel skin serves a similar function to the head of a banjo, although the sintir is generally classified as being a lute-style instrument. The three strings are setup with the first strong being a low drone tone, the second string is tuned an octave above the first, and the third is tuned a fourth above the first. Typically there will be strings with feathers and rings hanging from the head of the instrument that vibrate with the sound from the drone string.
For me this is an interesting find. I don’t think I’ve come across a recording of the bass sintir before. And I mean ever. For me that alone was worth the price of admission for listening to this work. In fact, it could actually be a bad recording, and I would probably have given it a recommendation just for the uniqueness of getting to hear this instrument. However, this release proved very quickly to go well beyond the curiosity of the bass sintir.
Before I completely mislead you into thinking the only instrument used on this release is the sintir I do need to point out that Jurica is a multi-instrumentalist. Other instruments played by Jurica on this release include: fretless guitar, dvojnice flute, and percussion. And, Samuel Sacher provides Kyma (digital sound) processing on a couple of tracks.
The music on this release spans the range of emotion. From the elevated dance-like Polacha, to the experimental free-form of Strings in wind, this release reaches out to the world, and brings it into focus with sparse arrangements that are rich in tone and texture. I cannot pick a single standout track from this release, they are all superb. While focused predominantly on middle-eastern sound, there are some elements of western music, like the way the opening of Under morning clouds has a gentle jazz sway.
This is a release that is hard to summarize. The best I can say is that it grabs your attention and won’t let you stop listening until it’s over. And, given that it’s only around thirty minutes, you will likely listen to it numerous times without growing tired of it.
My curiosity was piqued by the use of Bass Sintir on this release, and that alone would have made it a recording I would recommend listening to. However, the music, production, style and everything about this release escalates it to another level. A level that makes it worth many listenings. I know that it will be in my collection for a long time, and probably in quite a few playlists.