Ably abetted by a stellar cast of musicians associated with the New York jazz scene (string players Eyvind Kang, Mark Feldman, Jane Scarpantoni, tuba player Marcus Rojas, guitarist Marc Ribot), the Israel-born composer Reuel “Raz’ Mesinai (aka Badawi) conjures the deep mysteries of the Middle East and Arabia on his second Asphodel full-length Safe. Though his guests predictably dig into the aromatic material with impassioned ferocity, Mesinai’ no slouch as a player either, his aggressive piano attack in the feverish â€œThe Avenging Mythâ€ more than equal to the broil stoked by Feldman and Kang, the 14-minute epic also a showcase for Mesinai’ percussive talents (apparently he was introduced to Middle Eastern drumming as a child and spent time in drumming circles with Yemenite and Moroccan Jews, where he learned how to play instruments like the Zarb, the Darabuka, and the Bendir). On â€œSound on its Eccoing,â€ his flute lines undulate hypnotically over a funereal drone, with Mesinai’ dub influences coming to the fore in the echoing string plucks that drift across the tune’ desert expanses like a nomadic tribe. Elsewhere, the exotic hoedown â€œI Said Oblivionâ€ affords the violinists an ideal vehicle for trading infectious lines while Shahzad Ismaily’ electric bass animatedly rumbles through â€œOcean of Tears (2005 remix).â€ With Ribot’s stirring guitar work a focal point, â€œThe Bedouin Walks Aloneâ€ strongly aligns the Middle Eastern dimension of Mesinai’ sound with the ambiance of his adopted New York. Safe impresses as a meticulously crafted and thoroughly accessible presentation of exotic soundscaping.