Showing posts with label Worldbeat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worldbeat. Show all posts

Friday, 25 January 2019

Sons Of Kemet "Your Queen Is A Reptile" (2018)

This past month Ive been enjoying the sounds of British quartet Sons Of Kemet from our capital city London. This record, their third, is a busy Jazz scenario of unsettled landscapes in flow, occasionally smooth but mostly agitated, engulfed by worldly sounds and vibes that surface their identity. Its cover may be a link to a tribal heritage, something I don't quite hear in the music directly. For all its obvious cultural influences most of the music feels like the madness of a city whirling around an individual.

The ceaseless drums shape up every living moment with lively, energetic pacing that constantly bursts with frantic fills and moments of disorientation that always fall back on the rhythm. Armed with a deep, soft and brown restless Tuba tone, it pumps and plods away with binary pacing that leaves gaps for the Clarinet and Saxophone to fill. On tracks like Angela Davis it becomes quite fast, clustered and maddening as the intensities build with little respite. It is always the Sax that seems to find a human narrative in the atmosphere, sounding rooted as its jam rises above.

These songs drive and evolve like jam sessions, starting with a certain intensity and temperament that moves from one degree to another other the five to seven minutes they last. Occasional obvious grooves emerge but mostly its a bustling jive of instruments jabbing their voice into the fray to be heard. On its smoother cuts the toned down nature lets the lead Sax have a flow of melody but otherwise these notes swing rapidly between instruments. The calmer demeanor is always preferable.

The different degrees and flavors between songs will have you plucking favorites but the album makes a flash with two songs. On Marrie Phipps Clark and Doreen Lawrence a London Caribbean accent brings some social political commentary through recited poetry that gives focus to the instruments. These parts strips the music of its sometime monotonous tone and opens up to its other dimension, the song titles, all of which are names of female social-political figures. Ive enjoyed this record quite a lot but a smoother degree of Jazz music is more to my liking.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Dead Can Dance "Dionysus" (2018)

Blessed we are to have another Dead Can Dance project on our hands. After a six year absence the duo return with a mid length, sweet and exotic piece of music. Its around seven songs split into two sixteen and nineteen minute tracks. Through the journey of this blog I have been digging into their catalog and unearthing several gems, Aion being the first. They compose and perform meditative, spiritual music inspired by historical, cultural and worldly sounds. Time has not been a hindrance, this release is fondly inspired and fit to sit among the best of their wonderful discography.

The first act is luscious, exotic and wild. A modern production doesn't particularly give the duo anything they couldn't achieve already but its crisp and silky aesthetic has the percussion popping. Earthly choral singing over viola strings sounds dazzling too. It has a warm climate feel that plays out with powerful melodies conjuring deep earthly moods, reinforced by vocal cries of emotion from under the building layers of exotic instrumentation. Its a very primitive and rooted experience, a scenic interlude of rain, howling and chirping of wildlife grounds the link between these songs as its final piece goes into a primitive trance. One can envision star splattered night skies, camp fires, ritualistic dancing and singing around the glowing flickers of flames.

The second act feels colder and humanistic, the pace and tone turn to a nightly setting and Perry brings mysterious language to his singing. Brooding cultural voices and dazzling melodies stir up a climatic build up on the following song. Its another engrossing atmosphere and then The Forest really throws things back in time with a warm, upfront and gently bouncing baseline giving the track a Post-Punk feel, going back to their roots as a band. The singing is gorgeous, enriched by worldly travel. Its the albums peak as the following song slowly winds things down quietly as the record drifts back into the shadows from which it came. Its a brilliant record that does the best of what these two are known for with exquisite execution. The inspiration is ripe and with that a wonderful thirty plus minutes of riveting music has been birthed.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, 2 July 2018

Steve Roach "Dreamtime Return" (1988)

American composer Steve Roach's third major release, Dreamtime Return, has been lavished with praise, finding its way onto many essential listening lists, especially within the Ambient community. I share in its appraisal but must also put my trust in the critics who cite the records significance. The ideas on this record are not new to me, its execution however is stunning and to put yourself in the mindset that this is the first emergence of these new approaches to sound creates little more excitement. It barely elevates the already metaphysical experience at hand, which is truly transformational music at heart.

Temporal, meditative and deeply spiritual, the sonic pallet of spacey, exploratory electronic synths advance into the winds of life as the beating heart of mother earth pounds through slow, vast tribal drums and percussive instruments. They form a disconnected experience as their tempos are stretched by the lack of any measurable groove. In sway deep, engrossing sounds, phasing in and out of existence around the illusive anchor to reality. The atmospheres are large and engulfing yet with the percussive backbone they feel earthed by scale, as if primitive man gazes in awe upon the unending lands of earth he can explore eternally.

It is simple to dissect and understand the musics formula yet the power and persuasion it has over a willing listener is the work of a master. Dreamtime Return lasts over two hours and there are some sections that will appeal more than others but its length is testament to the metamorphosis it takes into the roots of our culture-less heritage. In my personal experience I see baking red deserts, vast savannahs and tropical paradises, all beautiful and deadly, the life of an apex predator far from the emancipation of civilizations neutering.

The spiritual side, embraced by the sweeping, windy synths, induces a subtle psychedelic quality that make me think of native Americans on spirit journeys or vision quests, an intrinsically profound experience under the aid of chemicals. There is a strange sense of isolation within the music but it is not loneliness, the hypnotic nature of the record will let one find their symbiosis with mother nature and bask in the awe of insignificance we are as individuals. Where Structures In Silence gazed upon the cosmos, this record gazed internally to the core of our being.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Dead Can Dance "Into The Labyrinth" (1993)

After a string of five records, Australian duo Dead Can Dance take a little longer to get their next effort out with a compilation released just a year after Aion. It follows a familiar construct of the two exchanging the lead roll as a sole voice over enchanting, cultural instrumentals. Two mesmerizing accapella's make an appearance in the eleven tracks mainly distinguished by an Mediterranean persuasion. First heard in slapped bongo grooves and steady tambourine alike percussion it grows with the record as the melodies feel increasingly sun soaked and the rich tapestry of instruments grows increasingly exotic and foreign with a desert sand tinge.

Its mostly Gerrard who indulges in these traveled voices. Sublime might be an understatement, her singing was under no contest but one has to be taken back by the cultural echos she inhabits with an ever expanding set of voices. Rich in texture and flawless in execution a emotional resonances illuminates her songs. Perry on the other hand often pulls the record back to the mystical, fantasy, medieval side of their sound, choosing to sing on the tracks rooted in sounds previously explored. They two are equally enjoyable but certainly fitting into whats been heard before.

Into The Labyrinth has little surprise. The excellence and inspiration this band can achieve is performed again and perhaps where they could of fully dove into new territory they have tread the lines between two strong ideas for an album most excitable when exploring the aforementioned cultural sounds of heated climates. With balanced measures of complimenting instruments, they once again muster together another set of magical songs to transform your imagination and take you on a journey through other worlds, times and beyond.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 26 June 2017

Delerium "Semantic Spaces" (1994)

Id not heard of Delerium before receiving this recommendation, however I had heard the Tiesto remix of their famous "Silence" Trance song. I'm also familiar with Front Line Assembly a Canadian Industrial group who flirted with Metal on their most commercially successful venture "Millennium" released the same year. Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber of the band formed this side project in 1987, a year after FLA, and released a prolific seven full lengths before this release, which is one of three in the year of ninety four. Its a lengthy record of steady moving electronic pieces tinging on ambience and encompassing a eastern, worldly cultural influences, very much reflective of the times.

With an arsenal of synthetic instruments the two line the back bone of these songs with layers of smooth flowing electronics, light and short wanderings of shimmering melodies, a few select sections of composition interwoven to form a dense music current that runs the course of these lengthy tracks. They are steady, smooth, calming and conjure a mellow atmosphere that's slightly juxtaposed to the actual level of instrumental activity. Looping percussive samples and bold, plump baselines hold the repetitions firmly in place, gluing the instruments together as they set the stage.

The magic happens in the forefront, this thick spine of instrumentation goes through the motions, expanding, contracting, coming and going with the flow of the music. Its the airy synths, feminine vocals, soft pianos and lead synths that inspire direction and determine the path the songs take. Some distinct cultural sounds come to this stage, eastern flutes and Gregorian chants sung by monks and choirs give the record an ethnic root that contrasts its electronic and modern persona.

With a firmly nineties electronic sound one can hear all sorts of influences from Trip Hop, to Dub, Trance, Downtempo, House and all between. Its a melting pot of that eras sound and it comes together seamlessly. There's little to criticize, the music is inspired and creates quite the setting for thought and indulgence however its not particularly thrilling. The smooth and easy flow often stagnates in places as the songs strength beyond the seven minute mark with not much more than a repeat of a previous segment. I may return to this one again, It feels like the sort of record you could grow to adore if it were in the background of some game, slowly drilling itself deep into your mind.

Favorite Track: Metaphor
Rating: 6/10