‘My Friend Hafiz’ from The Levins - musical tales and beautifully fused, engaging harmonies(February 25, 2013)
My ears hear a ghostly memory of ‘White Bird’ by The Incredible String Band or perhaps a faint resonance of ‘The End’ by The Doors. Whatever it is, the album ‘My Friend Hafiz’ from The Levins, is particularly moving – combining its influences through an homage to the 14th century mystic and poet Hafiz of Shiraz renowned for his musical language with an echo of a magical ‘sometime’ drifting precariously through the Summer of Love.
On ‘My Friend Hafiz’ Ira and Julia Levin reflect the messages of Hafiz’s inspiration on Islam, Hindus, Christians and both Eastern and Western philosophies through multi-layered, acoustically explorative sometimes startling soundscapes supported by strangely distinctive arrangements. They thread their musical tales through beautifully fused, engaging harmonies and an enticing melange of ancient and modern instruments to lead the listener down vaguely remembered dreamlike paths that alternate between long-ago shadows to manifestations of the present.
From the charismatic, chanting intro of ‘Dropping Keys’ through the reflective harmonic enchantment of ‘Your Mother and My Mother’ to the soft wonderment within ‘A Root In Each Act and Creature’ this is sublimely tranquil music. There’s more than an essence of Eastern discernment sealed inside ‘Like A Life Giving Sun’ – a song that grows in stature and depth with each successive hearing; ‘Act Great’ offers a step-change redolent of sixties psych-folk while ‘Old Sweet Beggar’ exudes an eloquent charm-filled mantra. This album encourages references to an elusive folk-rock acoustic mix that flourished when the world was younger and life pledged a hopeful simplicity – and that’s where this music leads. Those of us that recall that anticipatory assurance will welcome its return with ‘My Friend Hafiz’.
On ‘My Friend Hafiz’ Ira handles vocals, guitar, flute and piano while Julia deals with vocals, harmonies and piano. Playing with them across various tracks are: T. Hallenbeck (cello, mandocello) Ahron Wheels Bolsta (tabla, darbukka, riqq, percussion, bansuri Indian flute) Ian Kay Shields (cajon, bongos, percussion) Elizabeth Stuart (zarb, shaker, penny whistle) Diana Maccabee (violin) and Payam J. Agheli (ney).
The album’s official release date: 1st March 2013 and among other places you will find it here: www.thelevinsmusic.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll