Wings of an Angel – Requiem for an Anonymous Genius

Artist: Wings of An Angel
Title: Requiem For An Anonymous Genius (The Breath Of Life, Carnal Annihilation And Miraculous Resurrection Of The Job Of Art)
Label: Paralucid
Details: DL. 10 tracks / 53 minutes. Free download available from
www.archive.org

I reviewed Ayana by Wings of an Angel last year, an album consisting of two slightly sprawling tracks of free jazz / arabic fusion. Requiem for an Anonymous Genius takes similar influences. In general, though, this is a much more tightly structured work. The exception is the seventeen minute improv track Inside the Decaying Consciousness of a Solitary Genius – A Nightmare In Vivo, a piece that starts in an almost abstract form but eventually flowers into a kind of Coptic hymn of stunning beauty.

The other tracks may be shorter and less free, but they aren’t dominated by the epic centrepiece by any means. I Hear a Drum With my Soul’s Ear Coming From the Depths of the Stars sounds a little like Transglobal Underground at their most chilled, with hand drums and solo violin weaving a mesmeric spell. Ishq for Manjun is little more than a hurdy-gurdy, hand drum and two voices but it’s stunning.

In fact all ten of the tracks have much to commend them, with voices, percussion, violin, wind and drones being effortlessly manipulated into instantly appealing tableaus. As you’d expect from a requiem, the overall mood is one of melancholy, though this isn’t a depressing kind of sadness, but a liberated one. The two brief vignettes that bookend the record are the saddest of all, particularly the poignant closer Looking At my Silent Reflection Through a Non-Existent Mirror.

Requiem for an Anonymous Genius is near-faultless. I’m no expert on the music of the Middle East. I simply have to follow my ears unburdened by much knowledge of tradition. Sometimes, though, the less you know, the greater the sense of wonder.

I think it would be fair to decribe Israel-based Felix Kaplan aka Wings of an Angel as an unapologetic mystic. But he also holds a strongly held, and to my mind praiseworthy conviction that his music is made as art and not for commercial gain. Thus he never charges for any of his albums. All five of his projects to date can be downloaded from his MySpace page at www.myspace.com/halodim.

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