Sir Richard Bishop, Oxoacan, Pillars & Tongues | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Sir Richard Bishop, Oxoacan, Pillars & Tongues Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., June 25, 9:30 p.m. 2009

One of Sir Richard Bishop’s grandfathers was Lebanese, and Arabic music has long been a fascination of his, influencing both the psychedelic excursions of the Sun City Girls and the releases he’s helped produce for his extraordinary record label, Sublime Frequencies. The guitarist digs directly into that heritage for the first time on The Freak of Araby (Drag City), a terrific quartet album that pays homage to Omar Khorshid, one of the first players to find a way to work the electric guitar into the music of composers like Mohamed Abdel Wahab. The album mixes original material and tunes associated with legendary Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum, producing a sound halfway between Arabic music and the fierce surf rock of Dick Dale—another Lebanese-American who often drew on Mediterranean melodies. Unlike Dale, Bishop favors a restrained, graceful style, which nicely accommodates the microtones of Arabic music; even in rock mode he prefers limber, jazzlike grooves. He does some wild string scraping on the Middle Eastern standard “Sidi Mansour,” and on the epic closer, “Blood-Stained Sands,” he puts down the guitar in favor of a piercing Moroccan double reed called the rhaita, kicking up the tension and energy for a blowout climax. Oxoacan (who’ll also be backing Bishop) and Pillars & Tongues open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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