COMPOSERS: Titi Robin
WORKS: Kali Sultana
PERFORMER: Thierry Robin (oud, buzuk, guitar); plus various musicians
CATALOGUE NO: WN 145166
Best known for his collaborations with Gypsy, North African and Indian artists, Thierry ‘Titi’ Robin is a French multi-instrumentalist whose music is an inspired response to theirs. Kali Sultana (‘Black Queen’) is an impressive, largely instrumental suite in seven movements spread over two CDs.
Robin switches between oud, buzuk (a small middle-eastern lute) and guitar, never playing too many notes and mostly sticking to Arab scales, with sparingly used melodic accompanists generally playing in unison rather than harmony or counterpoint.
Haunting drones from two violas and a cello add an occasional chamber music ambience, and Robin’s daughter, Maria, sings (in French) at the opening of the more upbeat second disc, also reappearing towards the end.
Though her strident, child-like voice is undeniably something of an acquired taste, Kali Sultana is very much a mystical musical odyssey and a fine introduction to Titi – an underexposed but intriguing artist.