Arifa Opens This Year’s New York Gypsy Festival on a Haunting, Eclectic Note

by delarue

Arifa take austere, often haunting Turkish folk themes and build them into sweeping instrumentals with elements of classical and film music and jazz as well. They open this year’s New York Gypsy Festival auspiciously at around 7:30 PM on Sept 19 at Drom. If their new ep Anatolian Alchemy is any indication, this individualistic acoustic instrumental ensemble threatens to upstage the reliably exhilarating New York Gypsy All-Stars, who follow them on the bill. Cover is just $10; it’s an inexpensive and potentially spine-tingling way to kick off one of New York’s most reliably eclectic and exciting annual music festivals.

The ep opens auspiciously with Maktub, rising out of ominously lingering clarinet to a thicket of polyrhythms and then alternates with droning, murky atmospherics lowlit with eerily glimmering piano. Red Ink is the catchiest and most cinematic piece here, a hauntingly bittersweet melody that rises to a sweeping, enigmatic theme that winds down to plaintive piano and oud solos. The title track has an epic sweep, the piano rippling behind a spacious oud theme to open it, followed by a gorgeously brooding clarinet melody that alternates with pulsing, dancing interludes and a sizzling, spiraling piano solo to bring it to a peak right before the end. If this is any indication, the concert should be amazing.