Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Road to Jajouka: A Benefit Album [Howe, 2013]
The centerpiece is ghaita master Bachir Attar, inheritor by hustle of the stoned Moroccan aulos-and-oud-variants-plus-percussion music that has fascinated kif-addled Westerners since Brian Jones traipsed into the dying mountain village of Jajouka with a tape recorder in 1968. Live there's nothing remotely like its eldritch sonorities and impossible rhythms, and sometimes (not always) that's enough in itself--more than enough. On record it's dicier, with the Bill Laswell-produced 1992 Apocalypse Across the Sky the standard. Until this. The angel is drummer Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood. The other participants? Well, how can you not love desert-mountain weirdos who can make a single thing of, to name the ones I know in alphabetical order, Ornette Coleman, Aiyb Dieng, DJ Logic, Flea, Mickey Hart, Bill Laswell, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Lee Ranaldo, Marc Ribot, Howard Shore & the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and John Zorn? Largely NY-avant, sure, but on one sonically coherent record whose sound recalls none of them? Further enhanced by a female Indian vocalist unknown to me and the bassist from Ween? And the greatest of these is--who else? Hint: turned 84 March 9. A-