The Boxing Lesson, Digital Antique, and Ustad Ghulam Farid Nizami
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Nov. 26, 2010
Dubbed to limited-edition cassettes, the Boxing Lesson's Fur State offers a low-budget instrumental affair with an unusually high return. Recorded with a four-track in 2004, the eight-part sequence spins a distant carousel waltz of melody and mood, layering elongated vintage synthesizers and drum machine loops over stretches of acoustic guitar. It's a mellow, delirious listen, though "Three" and "Five," in particular, could pass as unfinished demos for the Lesson's customary space rock. In name only, Digital Antique conjures a similar aesthetic. The local trio employs a revolving string quartet and prefers the cleaner, more sophisticated realm of classical music. The group's eponymous debut unfolds with impressive patience and grace, leaning closer to the cinematic expressionism of My Education than Balmorhea's West Texas landscapes. "Taj Mahaal Monkees" showcases Antique's knack for unexpected right turns. From halfway around the world comes (Professor) Ustad Ghulam Farid Nizami, a 17th-generation Pakistani sitar scholar who's performed for every foreign dignitary from Nelson Mandela to Queen Elizabeth. A Fulbright scholarship brought him to UT in 2008, and Flowers of the Heart serves as his proper local introduction. An exotic, spellbinding collection of ancient Sufi ("Jogi Teri Poongi") and Rajasthani folk songs ("Tilak Kamod") finds voice primarily on sitar and tabla. Flowers proves Nizami could be the Black Angels' Ravi Shankar.