Why You Should Listen to Mike Massy’s Latest Avant-garde And Fun Album “Naseej”
« Play music, Love and Pray » can easily fit to be the slogan of Mike Massy’s new album « Naseej », we listened to it and we’ll tell you why you should too!
If you’re looking for a mystical experience to test the pure waters of Sufism, or if you simply wished for an unmatched musical discovery; either way, the new Mike Massy album was made for you!
Massy, with his warm and yet strong voice, takes the listener to a parallel universe of musical wonder that he created along with the musical performers Sary & Ayad khalifé. A music that scents of Andalusian orange flower, that speaks Persian poetry and Lebanese dialect and that plays velvet sounds of baroque piano along with jazz and Latin hints here and there. Naseej is a musical chef d’oeuvre and here are five reasons that explain it all:
If his first album won him a Murex d’Or for Musical innovation, The actor, musician, writer and arranger did not let that limit his creativity because this new album is simply a ground breaking progressive piece that will certainly give his career a twist. The lyrics are a patchwork of ancient poetry and traditional Lebanese chants along with religious prayers. This intriguing melange is put together with a mix of jazz music and baroque piano pieces, a sad cello and a fun Tabla, you almost don’t know what to expect and it’s quite delightful.
In 10 songs, Massy takes the time to travel back and meet with the great Sufi Master and poet Al-Hallaj to play to us “Ya naseem a-reeh”, a love song that depicts the poet’s boundless need for his Lover, a need always aggravated by the very satisfaction of itself. Mike massy pays tribute to another great poet, Ibn Maatouk, in “ Gharabat Shomoos Atalaki” this time playing on the music and voice levels to deliver an avant-garde 3.41 minutes of pure fun like we’ve never heard before. This playful piece shows that Mike Massy is not ready to produce an album that we can easily label as exclusively spiritual. He seems to focus on having fun more than ever and the resulting quality is astounding.
In completely instrumental songs like “Safar” or “Naseej” the collaboration with two of the best musicians on the scene right now pays back well. Sary and Ayad Khalifé are both renowned musicians who played with the best orchestras since the age of twelve, Sary focusing on Cello and Ayad on piano. The quality of the instruments’ sound in the album is impeccable and it is in part due to their musical upbringing, having both played in prestigious events in the Albert Hall of London or Le grand Palais in Paris. Another great collaboration was with the singer Fadia Tomb El Hage in yet another poetry by Sufi Master Al- Hallaj titled “Ajibtou Minka Wa Mini”. Her exquisite voice trained and used to sing oratorios which usually are about religious subjects matches with Massy’s voice and the theme of the album.
It doesn’t matter whether you like Sufi poetry, tango music, Lebanese pop or relaxing instrumental music because it’s all in there! In “Ya Mijana”, the singer revisits a traditional Lebanese song usually played in national celebrations and weddings. Mike Massy goes even further to keep his album from sounding too elitist, he sings a song where he mimics a traditional Lebanese wedding singer, giving wishes of prosperity and happiness to the bride and welcoming the guests as if it was a real wedding in a small village in the Lebanese Mount. In other instrumental songs like « Safar », the jazz influences are more perceptible and it’s useful in setting an exceptional mood all along. Moreover, in his song “Ruhmak Ya Allah” the singer repeats a single prayer and the music reminds the listener of a Tango rhythm, Mike Massy seems to share with us that the spirituality he found in music is unmatched in any other place.
In this album 9th track, a more personal note is played in the song titled “Salat Taghour”. Salat Taghour, which is a prayer written by the famous poet and playwright Rabindranath Tagore, where Massy addresses his own success and prays that it will not take away his ambition. He acknowledges his blessings of a successful career and a happy life but hopes it will not take away his humility. It is sung in a determined tone with grave piano, a conscious prayer with no hints of trance in it but still very intimate. We are not sure if his spirituality makes him compose better music or if his music makes him reach a higher consciousness, since not everything in this album is spoken out loud, letting each listener experience it in his or her own context.
To me, Naseej is an incredible art-work, a fun and avant-garde tribute to Sufi music and jazz which is something that has never been produced before. So this is definitely worth one or even 1000 listens. Check out the full album on Mike Massy’s Soundcloud and maybe check some of his other works available there too, and share with me what you think in your comments below :)!