Ahmed Azhar’s debut EP PIA is gloriously easy on the ears but fails to spark any kind of emotional response.
Published Sunday, 25 April 2021 07:27
A guitarist and composer by trade, the Moroccan’s sound is generally jazz-based with strains of his homeland adding the cherry on top although PIA brings in a hint of rock to spice things up.
The opening couple of tracks are the EP’s most exciting with ‘Intro,’ much like Van Halen’s ‘Eruption,’ serving as a statement of virtuosity – although much more refined than the aforementioned guitar god’s shred-fest.
Then comes ‘Ddounit,’ the only song featuring any vocals, which is, perhaps, the best example of Azhar’s jazz-rock fusion. With a simple hand-clap providing the back-beat the song casually shifts between the showmanship of rock and the tasteful restraint of jazz.
After that, though, thing start to plateau a bit. The rest of the EP recedes into Azhar’s comfort zone and, despite all the glorious compositions, fails to reach the dynamic heights of the opening tracks.
‘Pink Wave’ does what it can to breathe excitement back into the album, its wonderfully syncopated beat contrasting nicely with the more melancholic overtones of the melodies, but ultimately doesn’t do enough to hook the listener back in.
PIA is frustrating in that it shows that Ahmed Azhar is an endlessly talented composer and a technically gifted guitarist but, at the end of the day, there isn’t enough to the EP to make it anything more than sophisticated background music for sunset cocktails.