Deftly meshing Middle Eastern melodies with African rhythms, Tel Aviv-based guitarist Amos Hoffman’s newest effort is a psychedelic tour de force that seeks first to intrigue, then boldly envelops and enchants. Hoffman plays the oud effortlessly, with the notes seeming to melt and dribble off the instrument, while the fast-paced drumming gets your heart racing, teasing you with the question of where the alluring melodies might lead.
Without a doubt, this air of mystery is what drives the album from start to finish. The sparse beats in “Hamsa” invite you to fill in the blanks—the song opens with a rush of aesthetic emotion, then slows down in all the right places to allow you to catch your breath. “Takasin Bayati,” a more conventional track, puts Hoffman’s singing on display, if only briefly—his voice is soft and inviting, much like his guitar playing. Overall a sweet if not slightly unsettling journey, Evolution blazes a mind-bending trail through the porticoes of Hoffman’s musical vision.