Music Review: Wayfinder by Mohamed Assani
Mohamed Assani uses the sitar — an incredibly expressive and challenging instrument that’s a staple of Indian classical music — to produce beautiful and melodic contemporary compositions that are captivating, rich, and thoroughly enjoyable. His most recent album, Wayfinder (released on 04/24/2020), is one that I highly recommend to anyone interested in a flawless blend of Eastern and African influences mixed in with elements of electronic music that are soothing, uplifting, and energizing — all at the same time.
The lyric-less album keeps the listener’s focus on the seven genre-bending compositions in Wayfinder. The tracks are long, with the shortest one lasting just over seven minutes, but because of their exquisite production and arrangements — curtesy of Emmy and Juno-nominated music producer, Adham Shaikh — none are too long or too similar to one another to feel boring. Simply put, the music is so good that time slips by as you become immersed in the album’s auditory splendor.
According to the press-release, the album “is an act of gathering and discovery. It is the story of a musician-explorer who has journeyed the world and now has come home to empty his pockets and share his treasures.” Indeed, Wayfinder is impressively eclectic. Take for example the opening of “Serendipity,” which could serve as the theme song of a spy thriller, or “Black Sugar,” a track with a bassline (played by Jeanse Le Doujet) that’s similar to Billie Eilishe’s “Bad Guy,” both of which are excellent, but fairly different from one another.
These differences show that the Canada-based Assani is a well-rounded musician with intimate knowledge of traditional as well as contemporary music from different cultures around the world. But, it seems that his main inspiration comes from India, as Wayfinder features a number of traditional Indian instruments aside from the sitar, such as the tabla (played by Ustad Shahbaz Hussain), mridangam, kanjira, and mbira ( by Curtis Andrews) — even though the album itself was created in different parts of the world, from the middle of the rainforest in the Kootenay Mountains of B.C., Canada.
Calm, cool, and creative, Wayfinder is one of the best albums I’ve gotten to review so far. Check out Mohamed Assani’s website for more information, stop by Spotify to check out his album, and make sure to follow him on social media to keep up with his latest news and releases.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/mohamedassani
Note* All photos are credit of Kristine Cofsky Photography. Album provided for objective review by our partners.