Musical inspiration is a tricky thing. It is hard to plan for; sometimes, it just happens. It certainly happened when percussionist Michael Askill met the Turkish multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek for the first time in an Australian broadcasting studio. Askill is one of the finest percussionists in Australia; Tekbilek plays flutes, reeds, lutes, and percussion. With a trio of additional percussionists, these two musicians created an exhilarating romp through the musical cultures of the Near East, the Pacific Rim, West Africa, and Western jazz or classical music. Fata Morgana captures the spontaneity and joy of the music-making process – something usually missing from studio recordings.
Askill and Tekbilek collaborated on most of the compositions. Some, like Under Desert Stars, evoke the nocturnal music rituals of the desert; others, like The Goldsmiths or the clever Sufi House, recall Tekbilek’s colorful and popular collaborations with Brian Keane. The inspiration for these works developed from simple images and stories shared by the two musicians; more conventional musical decisions – instrumentation, for example, or the tempo of a piece – were left for the actual recording sessions. As a result, Fata Morgana has a strong improvisatory quality, while at the same time creating a sound world that is clearly mapped out. Fata Morgana is both exotic and accessible; even more to the point, it captures the enthusiasm of two talented musicians from opposite parts of the globe, sharing their musical explorations with each other and with the listener.