The mixing was conducted in the Swedish Nilento Studio, in Göteborg, and lends the album its light, cohesive quality. As soon as the opening track ‘Humankind’ starts – a wonderful meditative number with orientalist tinges –Youssef’s head voice unites with the clarinet to become one. Later on, with ‘Ruby Like Wine’ and ‘Like Dust I May Rise’, Youssef again asserts his talent for dream-like atmospheres that are built up with a real economy of notes.
Everything is there for Eivind Aarset’s celestial sustained notes to work their magic. “For me, this record is more meditative, more spiritual and more accessible than the previous one, Diwan of Beauty and Odd” explains Youssef. “Careful though – looking out for some inner peace and wisdom has nothing to do with a religious endeavour here”. A genuine product of musical maturity, his voice retreats to give way to a music which arises with radiance and lets all the delicate intricacies of composition as well as the talent of the soloist bloom.
Although the core of the record is made of five tracks which are rather contemplative (some of which are reminiscent of Jon Hassell’s ambient utopias), Dhafer Youssef’s taste for groove never tires. His odd rhythms sound like even beats, and an irresistible drive urges the listener to beat time, especially on ‘Dance Layan Dance’ (in reference to his daughter), ‘Journey in Bergama’, ‘Nasikhabhushani’ or the catchy ‘Chakkaradaar’. The tones of Zakir Hussain’s tablas resonate with precision all the while mingling with Youssef’s freestyling oud. “The older you get, the less you feel the need to justify what you’re doing” Youssef says with a smile.
With Sounds Of Mirrors, Dhafer Youssef and his enthralling, endless capacity for renewal offers the listener a golden opportunity to bear witness to new encounters, like so many musical colours that had never been imagined before. The art of sharing is one of fine alchemy.