Although the sound of the Master Musicians has varied little throughout the years, this album presents their music like few have before. Clean and unadulterated by studio effects, the instruments are equally balanced in the mix and possess a fantastic tonal depth that makes their music more appealing-and mesmeric-than ever. The drums on "Joal Fibladijoal" are pummeling and insistent though brief, while the Musicians reach for ecstatic communion on "Boujeloud Dancing with Kandisha." A melodic flute with backing drones encompasses the first half of "Double Medahey" before various drums and rhythms make the hypnosis complete. If the album has a centerpiece, it would be the 19-minute epic "Allah Allah Habibi Galouja," one of the few songs here to feature singing as well as bowed and plucked instruments alongside the usual flutes and drums.
Such a splendid performance coupled with superb recording quality makes this an exceptional album. A fitting tribute to Bowles, Live Volume 1 is also the debut release on a new label owned and operated by the Master Musicians themselves, hopefully the first of many more to come.