Fire Dance is a natural progression from Suleyman. A plethora of Middle Eastern and North African instruments has been blended with synthesizers, guitar, and sophisticated orchestrations. The focus of Fire Dance has been expanded beyond Turkey, to include music from North African, Egyptian, and other Middle Eastern and Arabic sources. This recording begins with the sound of the desert wind in Somewhere in the Sahara.
Faruk’s enchanted ney enters from the distance with flourishes of goat bells. Orchestrations sneak in and build to a guitar solo with lavish synthesizer effects. The whole track then dissolves into Oglan Boyun, as if we have traveled over a dune and discovered a village in celebration, surrounded by the vast desert. As Oglan Boyun ends, we are left with Faruk’s haunting voice floating out of the wind in A Call to Prayer. This soulful segment gives way to a magical ney section orchestrated to depict a garden of earthly delights. Faruk’s voice returns in a powerful whirlwind of sound, followed by the drifting Desert Twilight. Brian’s guitar opens this melodic piece with a rich, peaceful introduction. Faruk enters on the ney in an expansive and warm tone, complemented in the bridge by the baglama, adding an Eastern flavor. The music fades, leaving the listener with serenely quiet beauty evoking the title, Desert Twilight. A Passage East is a showcase for both
Faruk’s impeccable percussion and Brian’s superb guitar chops. In Song of the Pharaohs, the wind and Faruk’s haunting ney return to create the mystical impression of the distant time of the ancient pharaohs’ rule. Enchanted by elaborate orchestrations, flourishes of windchimes, the voices of strangers, distant horns, and synthesizers that seem to defy conventional spatial dimensions, this piece assumes a psychedelic atmosphere. Beledy introduces us to the zurna, an oboe-like instrument with a very distinctive Middle Eastern sound. This composition is in the Arabic style, featuring very strong passages. Fire Dance is an energetic piece that demonstrates why Tekbilek and Keane are at the forefront of their respective musicial fields and the magical fertility of their collaboration. Ask is a contemporary Middle Eastern standard showcasing Faruk’s proficiency on the oud. Village Song is a traditional Turkish folk song in 9/8 meter featuring Faruk on percussion.
Modern Mystics brings the two musicians/composers together, on ney and guitar, in a meditative setting. Sahara (Reprise), with Brian on guitar, was an out take that was too special to leave off this recording. Spirit of Ancestors shows a deep mystical side with Faruk’s powerful, searching voice. Halay concludes the recording with an uplifting, joyous celebration and driving rhythm. With Fire Dance, Omar Faruk Tekbilek and Brian Keane have created a unique recording that embraces many moods, at once energetic and meditative, mystical and joyous. Imbued with grace, this music transports the listener to a magical land where patterns of rich Middle Eastern traditions are joined in music. Fire Dance is an adventure in transformation from which there is no turning back.