As a session musician and songwriter, Manchester’s Aziz Ibrahim has a diverse portfolio featuring work with Simply Red, Asia (on 1996’s Arena), Stone Roses, Steven Wilson and Paul Weller (most recently on his Number One album, Sonik Kicks). A prog boy at heart, the guitarist’s collaboration with tabla player Dalbir Singh Rattan has a decidedly progressive philosophy. Rusholme Rock is the sound of ‘Asian blues’ – Western music filtered through Ibrahim’s own, Anglo-Pakistani sensibility.
So we get Sonny Curtis’s I Fought The Law and Ian Brown’s solo hit My Star rearranged with sustained guitars, droning sitar effects and Rattan’s amazing tabla playing.
These are adorned by Ibrahim’s modern, polystylistic guitar playing, his functional vocals rightly mid-mix on those tracks plus the wry, life-affirming Middle Road and oddly beautiful Kills Me. The languorous jams Xen And Now and Heavens’ Rain are more traditional, yet they transcend that dread, catch-all category, ‘world’.
An understated achievement, Rusholme Rock offers a soundworld and concept that both beg deeper exploration, but perhaps with a longer cast list next time.