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The Orient Express (1969)


The Orient Express' sole LP from 1969 stands today as an early experiment in world fusion - and a pretty successful one at that, at least artistically. Guitarist Guy Duris is a Frenchman who became enamored with the oud, a classical Arabian guitar. Belgian Bruno Giet is a bass player with a rock background. Iranian Farshid Golesorkhi is an award-winning percussionist in the Persian tradition. As a trio, they only left 35 minutes for posterity, but these minutes are filled with interesting ideas and kitschy songs, all originals. All three men sing in English, with an accent so thick most lyrics become undecipherable (and, from the bits you can make out, they don't seem worth deciphering), but the songs are quite good and very positive: "Dance with Me" features greatly ornamented vocals Arab-style, while "A Little Star" and "For a Moment" are straightforward pop songs of their time, albeit with dumbek battling the drum kit for percussive prominence, and sitar providing a background texture. Duris and Golesorkhi get solo features ("Layla" and "Impulse (Forty-Two Drums)" respectively), and "Azaar" is a canon song. The other tracks are instrumentals ranging from Indian-tinged psychedelic tunes to crosses between French pop and Middle-Eastern classical music. The Orient Express uses a lot of the clichés associated with Middle-Eastern music, except that these were not cliché yet back in 1969 and they are being used here in good faith. It explains why this LP still sounds fresh and exciting today. (amg)

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