Renowned sitar player and world traveler Mohamed Assani will release a new album, Wayfinder, on April 24. A special live streaming release party is scheduled for Friday, April 24 at 7 pm. Fans may attend virtually by going to Indian Summer Festival’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.
The album’s title – Wayfinder – was borrowed from Polynesian culture, which refers to Wayfinders as the “astronauts of our ancestors,” pilots who navigated by means of stars and planets, listening to the wind, and feeling the touch of waves on their canoe hull.
In a similar manner, Assani plots a course through uncharted musical regions, seeking, observing, and discovering new soundscapes that he brings back to share with listeners.
The album blends elements of classical Indian/Pakistani music, North African music, Middle Eastern music, jazz, funk, Western harmony, electronica, and ambient music. Produced by Adham Shaikh, the album features the talents of Ustad Shahbaz Hussain (tabla), Curtis Andrews (mridangam, kanjira, mbira), and Jeanse Le Doujet (bass).
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Assani attended Dartington College of Arts in the UK, earning his degree in Western Classical and World Music, followed by learning sitar as a disciple of Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan of the Poonch Gharana.
Embracing seven-tracks, Wayfinder begins with “Awakening,” whereon a gentle throbbing rhythm establishes support for Assani’s evocative sitar, low-slung and shimmering with traditional accents.
Entry points include “Black Sugar,” opening on a pulsing trap-like beat topped by luminous, almost psychedelic hues from Assani’s sitar. Ambient and jazz flavors give the tune a dreamy, undulating flow. “Serendipity” delivers a cinematic intro segueing to an orchestral-jazz-like melody flavored with strident Middle Eastern ingredients.
“Darbari Dub” opens on gleaming sitar tones riding an EDM-lite rhythm, while glistening inflections infuse the harmonics with exotic rippling savors.
On Wayfinder, Mohamed Assani demonstrates his gift for blending a variety of stylistic sounds with the lustrous timbres of the sitar.