After a brief prelude, delicately, almost toyingly played on classical guitar, the percussion, drums and bass swell up, churning and churning, then spilling over the levee separating Latin and Persian music, classical and jazz forms. That's the sound of Nightmare in Heaven, the debut album by Farshid Etniko. The band includes two-thirds of the now-defunct Acoustic Internote: John Hale on drums, Ali Soltanshahi on hand percussion and brother Farshid Soltanshahi on guitars and setar (a modified sitar). Fretless-bass player Timothy Duggan and vocalist Ayse complete the new ensemble.As he did with Acoustic Internote, Farshid brings a lively, unfettered imagination to arrangements of such classic numbers as Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and Django Reinhardt's "Minor Swing" but now seems to have a more subtle, expressionist vision in mind. On "Landes," he and harmonica player Sandy Weltman (who recorded the album at his Sandbox Studios) circle around each other like swallows at dusk, and on "Kamicaz Blues," Farshid switches to electric guitar just long enough to remind the listener that of all the celebrated guitar players this city has known, he may just be the most brilliant. Farshid has created his own lavish, passionate, dreamlike language, and on Nightmare in Heaven, his band asserts itself as one of the most original, accomplished and exhilarating groups in St. Louis. Farshid Etniko's CD-release party at the Sheldon will be one of the music happenings of the year.
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