Review | Songlines

Traversées

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko

Label:

Ma Case Records

May/2019

Jardins Migrateurs, the previous collaboration of Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko was described here as ‘ a disc of regal and dignified magnificence.’ I'd say this new one is even more remarkable. Constantinople are a Canada-based trio led by Iranian setar player and singer Kiya Tabassian, while Ablaye Cissoko is an excellent Senegalese kora player and singer. Having now worked together for five years, the musicians have developed a shared understanding and common language as well as drawing on their respective cultures in Persia and West Africa. The track ‘Départs’ eloquently juxtaposes a Wolof song about departed elders with a Farsi poem by 13th-century Indian mystic Amir Khusrau lamenting the departure of loved ones.

Aside from the poetic and spiritual consonances, the instrumental playing and textures are remarkable. Both the setar and kora have a similar plucked expressivity and intertwine gorgeously on ‘Serigne/Bi Signare’. They're joined by Pierre-Yves Martel on viola de gamba, bringing the flavour of a 16th-century courtly dance to ‘Recercarda Quinta’, and Patrick Graham on deftly-chosen percussion. The final track, ‘Vers Isfahan’, features extended solos on setar and kora reminding us that Tabassian and Cissoko come from two sublime improvising traditions. One of the most beautiful discs of the year so far.

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