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Boomkat Product Review:
Delving for a fourth time into EMI's Hayes Archive, Honest Jons trawl a treasure trove of old 78s from Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Turkey, all united by the theme of virtuoso string instrument performances. Originally recorded during the 1920s these revelatory selections have been all-but consigned to obscurity ever since, but now a whole new audience awaits the arresting talents of musicians like Abdul Hussein Khan Shahnazi, Kanoni Artaki and the incredible Nechat Bey - whose hypnotic bowing performance on 'Husseini Taxim' converges on the outright otherworldly. While so many of the finest collections of rare and archived music have often taken a broad cross-section of genres and cultural bases (Dust To Digital's Victrola Favourites would be a good example) Open Strings succeeds for being fairly specific and sourced from a sensibly narrow field. You never feel like a tourist listening to this music and by the time you make it through the whole set you'll feel considerably closer to a strand of instrumentalism that could so easily have remained shelved and unheard. Honest Jons go one step further by bringing in modern day artists to compose responses to the archive selections. The likes of Sir Richard Bishop, Charlie Parr, Voice Of The Seven Woods' Rick Tomlinson, Michael Flower and Steffen Basho-Junghans all put in outstanding performances, but its down to the imperious Six Organs Of Admittance and MV & EE to really harness the spirit of this music, the former by sheer force of virtuosity, the latter by exhibiting a particularly resonant understanding of Middle Eastern harmony. Superb.