It’s a journey into eastern exotica on Garden of Delight, the latest album from Paul Avgerinos. Avgerinos is a veteran musician and multi-instrumentalist who was trained at the Peabody Conservatory and worked as an orchestral bassist. That was before he heard Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach and decided to plug in.
He’s still wired, but now he uses his Connecticut studio as mission control for a world fusion sound that employs musicians from Turkey and the middle east as well as western players on instruments as technologically polarized as the Indian Bansuri flute and Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI). The flute is played by Steve Gorn, who weaves his soul-drenched melodies like wisps of smoke curving off a candle.
Listeners of New Age records in the 1980s might recall Kevin Braheny, who played synthesizers and EWI. He’s changed his name to Kevin Braheny Fortune, but that distinctive EWI sound, part flute, part violin, returns here on tracks like “Night Blooms” and “Bird of Paradise,” effecting middle eastern slides and arcs. Avgerinos uses Christine Yandell and Malika Zarra as ethereal choirs and sensual sirens, and plants gentle synthesizer pads across his compositions. Tracks like “Jasmine” could be a seductive walk into a harem while the opening “Rose of Heaven,” featuring Avgerinos on nylon-string guitar, creates the perfumed aura of a temple. Turkish Ney flute master Omar Faruk Tekbilek blows his serene, Sufi-inspired melodies across several tracks. He’s joined by several other Arabic musicians on Oud, Violin and Percussion, who lend some gravitas to the proceedings. Garden of Delight is an enchanting vision that reveals more each time you travel down its paths.