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CD Review
Hamsa Lila - Live In Santa Cruz

Hamsa Lila

Live In Santa Cruz
Record Label: In The Pocket Records
Review by Greg Hatrumian
February 2009

This generous double cd, from San Fransico-based Hamsa Lila, can rightfully claim “state of the art” status for digital recordings in both sound reproduction and live mixing. The resultant clarity of the instruments and voices, with faint echoes of audience and hall ambiance, are nothing short of stunning.

Echoes play prominently in the music of Hamsa Lila, a “trance” band delving largely into the musics of the middle east, hip-hop beats, and occasional rock rhythms for counterpoint. Coming several years on the heels of “The Gathering One,” this 2-CD set plays well over 2-1/2 hours in chronicling an evening in Santa Cruz.

The band’s name is a clue to their music: a Hamsa is an ancient amulet shared by both Arabic and Hebrew traditions used for greeting and magical protection of the five senses - in Sanskrit, it means “swan” and refers to “Divine Breath.” Lila is a night ritual of the Gnawa people of Morocco, a rich ceremony marked in the sensory realms of sound (music, song), sight (colors), smells (incense) and movement (dance).

This musical mix lets its participants enter a trance state of healing purification, and the performance of startling dances. There is no purpose in listing cd tracks, as they all flow into each other, despite rest stops in a larger gestalt picture.

The tablas, ouds, and drum kit propel the music and easily evoke images of another place and time.

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