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One Night @ The 1001

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Album Review

Here's what you get: a double-disc reissue of One Night @ the 1001, Vol. 1 on Sub Rosa. First released in 1998, it was deleted quickly after its arrival. The CDs are as follows: disc one is a little over an hour of music recorded live at the Thousand and One Nights, a short-lived restaurant owned by Brion Gysin in the mid-'50s. The music Gysin booked was by the best traditional musicians from the region, especially those who specialized in trance and exorcism, most of whom were Joujouka Master Musicians. Disc two is a 63-minute piece of Gysin's called "Dilaloo," considered by some to be his master work. The work was recorded in 1956, and spends itself portraying, or reiterating, an initiation ceremony in the village of Joujouka. There is a quiet electronic soundtrack added by the heir of Gysin's recorded estate, Ramuntcho Matta, created by a computer algorithm reportedly guided randomly by Gysin's permeating spirit. Of the 12 tracks collected on disc one, many of them are edited performances. The sound quality is surprisingly good, though there are some ambient sounds of the restaurant to be heard on many of the cuts. In addition, many of these beautiful performances — all short — are edited so it's hard to get the feel of music that was supposedly played all night long in the restaurant. That said, it's dynamite: raw and full of passion, pathos, and the sacred. It alone is worth the price of purchase. Gysin's work is fascinating, jarring, and entrancing, but the truth of it is, how many times can one sit through such a thing? It's brilliant work, so utterly immediate and convincing. One has to wonder, though, what it would sound like without the occasionally irritating electronics in the background. Alas, perhaps listeners will one day know. For now, this is as good as it gets.

One Night @ The 1001, Brion Gysin
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