1/  Pour Matoub                                (Cheb I Sabbah)               6.21
        DJ Cheb I Sabbah
  2/  Amorphous                                  (Laswell)                     8.18
        Bill Laswell
  3/  Bouhala                                    (Universal)                   6.10
  4/  Hayati                                     (Wobble,Badar,TOS)            5.19
        Jah Wobble and Temple of Sound
  5/  Voices From the Sky (Meta Mix)             (Mesinai)                     4.35
  6/  Hann El Amar                               (Traditional)                 4.32
        Micheline Abdel Karim and Amer Ghandour
  7/  Whirling                                   (Tekbilek)                    10.41
        Omar Faruk Tekbelik
  8/  Theme and Variations                       (Shaheen)                     7.41
        Simon Shaheen
  9/  Ancient Evenings (Majm-al-Din)             (Laswell)                     7.45

          Track 1 recorded at Nasik Studios, Berkeley, CA by Baba Larry Ji
          Track 2 recorded at Orange Music Sound Studios, New Jersey by Robert Musso
          Track 8 recorded at Sorceror Sound, New York City
          Track 9 recorded at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Assistant engineer on track 2: James Dellatacoma
          Track 4 mixed by Cai Murphy
          All tracks produced by the composer unless noted
          Track 4 produced by Jah Wobble and Temple of Sound
          Track 8 produced by Simon Shaheen and Bill Laswell
(1) DJ Cheb i Sabbah: all sounds; (2) Bill Laswell: bass, keyboard; Abu Alouf: sample; Sussan Deyhim: voice; Zakir Hussain: tabla; Bill Buchen: percussion; Aiyb Dieng: percussion; Hamid Drake: bass drum; (3) Jah Wobble and Temple of Sound: all sounds; Shahim Badar: voice; (6) Micheline Abdel Karim: vocals; Amer Ghandour: musician; (7) Omar Faruk Tekbilek: all sounds; (8) Simon Shaheen: featured violin, oud; Ibrahim Salman : quanoun; Sheikh Taha: accordion; Anton Hajjar: ney; Najib Shaheen: oud; Ramzi Bisharat: tabla; Michel Baqlouq: daff (tambourine); Hanna Mirhige: mizhar (frame drum); Bobby Farah: sagat (finger cymbals); Nessim Dakwar, Kamil Shajrawl, Artemis, Theodos & Gabriel Palka: violins; Simon Shaheen : viola; Michael Richmond: double bass; Michael Finkel & Vladimir Greenberg: cello; Paula Bing: flute; Laura Shaheen, Nermine Rawi, Louise Salman, Youssef Kassab, Maurice Chedid & Simon Shaheen : chorus; (9) Bill Laswell: all sounds.

Track 7 arranged by Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Brian Keane
Track 8 conducting and arranging assistance by Vladimir Greenberg
Track 8 inspired by "Min Gheir Leh" (M.A.Wahab)
Track 8 adapted, arranged and conducted by Simon Shaheen

          2001 - Meta Records (USA), MT012 (CD)


_Spiritual Beauty: Imaginal Orient_ (Meta) is indeed a beaut. The playbill includes a brilliant opening mix by DJ Cheb i Sabbah; a piece entitled "Amorphous" by Bill Laswell which incorporates both a sample of the Lebanese singer Abu Alouf, recognizable from Eno & Byrne´s _My Life in the Bush of Ghosts_ and vocal input by Sussan Deyhim (which I am almost certain is taken from a previous session for the track "Black Lotus" on the Sacred System CD _Nagual Site_); excellent contributions by U-CEF (Morocco), Omar Faruk Tekbilek (Turkey), Palestinian and Israeli emigres Simon Shaheen and Badawi, respectively; and Jah Wobble & the Temple of Sound (yet another new group?) featuring the remarkable vocals of Kuwaiti Shahim Bada. The closing "Ancient Evenings (Najm-al-Din)" is credited to Laswell´s Divination and purports to be "ambient translations of the exotic desert landscape", where listeners are guided through the wastes by a bit fat-bottomed bass.

There is not a single track that is less than fascinating and it is easily the "World" music release of the year, imho. Consumer information: Sometimes Bill Laswell-related compilation CDs are accused (sometimes rightly so) of recycling old stuff too often. The only track I recognize as having previously being released is Simon Shaheen's, from a Laswell-produced Axiom product showcasing the music of the composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab. Everything else is news to me, and very good news at that.

Stephen Fruitman