Qais Essar: Tavern of Ruin
Qais Essar — Tavern of Ruin
Release Date: July 15
Our Rating: 4/5
Spec Recs: “Poppy Flowers Bloom In The Springtime…My Love,” “Blushing Dawn (Bhairavi)”
In one word: Revealing
The rabab is a lesser known instrument to the Western World, and thanks to Qais Essar, we are not only allotted the opportunity to experience this ancient music maker —an Afghan lute instrument— but also to experience it performed upon masterfully. In his latest album, Tavern of Ruin, Essar gathers up influences from his surroundings throughout his life and presents them to us musically. When I listen to this album, I feel that Essar is leading me upon a journey. It’s a journey through his soul and his inner thoughts: contentment and conundrums.
As a musician and avid music listener, I’m often drawn to melody first, especially when performed vocally. To be honest, I didn’t even notice that this album is purely instrumental until the second to last track. This is because of the way Essar orchestrates his pieces. He has mastered the touch and articulation of this instrument and he is able to take us to another world, his world.
Though there are no lyrics in this album, the music itself speaks louder than any combination of words. The music is a true tribute to the genius of Essar, there is not a dull tune to be found. While there is a common thread to the album in terns of the rabab and the purely wondrous musicianship exhibited, it’s on the whole, rather detached. Every song on the album is so stylistically different.
However, embedded in this musical journey lies a trilogy. “The Thaw,””Vernal Sunshine Pt. 1” and Vernal Sunshine Pt. 2” create a story to me. We are introduced to a man and his demons, and as the plot thickens and the story reaches its climax, we come out of it feeling peaceful, knowing that through the use of this beautiful instrument this man was freed, if only for a moment. Throughout the album, Essar’s imagination and creativity is re-established over and over. This album is a kaleidoscope of imagery through sound.