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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review: Guy Mendilow Band – Skyland

Guy Mendilow Band – Skyland
2008, Mendilusian Music/Earthen Groove Records

Guy Mendilow is a citizen of the US, Great Britain and Israel; his cultural and musical leanings veer all over the map, as his travels have taken him to all corners of the globe. A winner of the World Music Song Contest, Mendilow blends musical styles and flavors with an artistic flair and distinctive sense of melody. The Guy Mendilow Band's latest album, Skyland, was released this week and continues the sort of auditory magic he's become known for.

Skyland opens with Experiment, a highly rhythmic and varied instrumental that will inspire you to dance. Rain, Rain Beautiful Rain is a bit repetitive lyrically but is a thing of beauty musically, combining gentle, pulsing instrumental support and gorgeous vocal harmonies. You may find you are inspired in spite of yourself as Mendilow mixes Eastern and Western sounds to delightful effect. Sala'am sounds like an intriguing anthem from Israeli that mixes elements of American Folk/Rock with South American rhythms (possibly Brazilian). The title means Peace in Arabic, and the song is a joyous celebration. In Durme, Durme, Mendilow takes a Sephardi tune with roots deep in history and turns it in a modern direction with a wink and a smile. Sung in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and Greek, Mendilow crafts a deep and graceful arrangement and shares a moving vocal duet with the highly talented Aubrey Johnson.

Depois Que O Ile Passar takes an interesting left turn into jazz, sounding like something that might have come out of Sting's band in the late 1980's in the breakdown. There is a driven quality in the laid back by rhythmic arrangement that creates a simultaneous beauty and tension that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Le Melange De Ouaoaron takes down New Orleans way with some delicious Cajun flavored country music. You'll want your dancing shoes on for this one; it's the most entertaining song on the disc. Mendilow follows this up with the Spanish-guitar flavored La Serena; a moving piece with a chilling vocal line. Blues For Dino is a tribute to Brazilian berimbau player Dino Nascimento, and adds a never flavor to the classic American sound. Mendilow's cover of Amazing Grace is solid and tends toward thematic variation and interpretation. It's not my favorite version of the tune by far, but is respectable. Mendilow closes out with Cuando Veo Hija Ermoza, a dark and deeply textured composition nearly seven minutes long that mixes Eastern and Western sounds, culminating in a clarinet solo that's part Jazz and part Sephardi. With both vocals and extended instrumental portions, the song is almost like a recap of everywhere Mendilow has travelled in the course of Skyland.

Being more familiar with Klezmer than Sephardi, I felt a little green going into Skyland, but Mendilow makes the listener feel right at home. Mendilow's music, like his philosophies, know no international boundaries. Brazil, Louisiana, the America West, Western Africa, Israel, Europe and even the Far East contribute elements to the sounds and Skyland, and Mendilow knits them all together like a master craftsman. I highly recommend Skyland to my readers, even if falls outside your normal area of interest.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Guy Mendilow at or You can purchase Skyland as either a CD or a download through

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Skyland is now available at