Sunbeam Rec. The Habibiyya : If Man But Knew (US,1972,re.2007)***°
After Mighty Baby had gained some success by mid 1971, this group was given a contract to make a next album of whatever they wanted. Coincidentally some members had visited Morocco and were exposed to Sufi music of Fez and Meknes, a form which once was defined in Spain centuries ago by Ziryab. They were so affected by it and everything this was about that they decided to convert themselves to this religion, and to record, with two other members who had some experience for completing such a “spirit”, their own honest version of this. The result partly was at it's best a perfect musical meditation -the group had meditated before each recording trying to unite as much as possible with the music-, and just a little bit, especially for the singing parts, a hippie-fashioned form of more mind-blank pure-devotional music. They didn’t have Moroccan instruments, so they played this with zither, piano, sakuhachi, banjo, oboe, koto, mandola (replacing the oud), ney flute, Bina organ (=an Indian hand organ, the most common instrument for those traditions), and hand drums. There were no overdubs done, but only a selection made it to the actual LP. This was a bit of a shame, because the hippie-Islamic track with only parts of meditative intros, and just two longer tracks on side B feel a bit incomplete. The left over material luckily is included here for the first time, but unfortunately does not complete the session entirely in how they recorded it in real time. All the extra tracks became just bonus tracks, hanging still more or less together. They are of the same quality as the others and very much complete the album. The few fragments with use of oboe bring very easily The Third Ear Band to mind, only this group wasn’t inspired by Hindu patterns, but by Sufi music, something which was pretty unique in its time context, and even didn’t happen many more times after this. The group was short-lived, and the recording more or less captured just a fragment of their experiences. It might have broken the flow of things too soon ; nothing really lasted.
The two members who were not of Mighty Baby were Susan and Conrad Archuletta who had played with the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company. Susan studied violin with Ali Akhbar Khan, besides she had also cooperated with electronic composer Don Buchla and with soundscape artist Christopher Tree.