Thursday, 28 February 2013

Adham Shaikh Interview

I first came across Adham Shaikh’s music on the Dakini Records compilation “Tribal Matrix 2” which includes his track “Kundalini Fuel”.  Digging deeper it transpired that he had been releasing music for some considerable time before that release. I’ve followed his uploads on Soundcloud and have been constantly impressed so it’s high time he featured on the Sun Is Shining.

1)     Firstly thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your musical career?
My name is Adham Shaikh and I am a global bass producer (world fusion) exploring the relationships between sounds of the old world and the new, fusing electronics with traditional instruments from around the world.  Explorations of dance, dub, world, chill-out, down-tempo & funk.  I started playing classical piano from the age of five and studied classical piano and then composition for a few years at university. But the discovery of synthesizers at fourteen really changed my path and began my love affair with all things electronic.

2)     With HMV going into administration after 92 years it certainly high-lights the change in way people are purchasing music. As an artist who combines the traditional sounds of the past with the more modern electronic sounds do you still prefer the analogue synths or are you embracing the new technology to the point of music apps on your mobile?

The whole "industry" has changed and certainly the way we were making music in early 90's with multiple synths, drum machines, sequencers, outboard fx and big mixers has evolved to compact possibilities in just a laptop with software. I have stayed with the tech and find myself especially on film projects working entirely in the computer with software samplers, software instruments, virtual fx and virtual mixing.   Even when I play live I have two ipads running synths and touch osc with laptop … amazing.  

I love analog synths though and still have a few of my favs from over the years a Jupiter 6, prophet 5, mks 80 and ms 20. Nothing sounds as pronounced and thick, I often record these into the computer as audio tracks.  But for song writing, speed of recall and accuracy of tuning (I work on lots of projects in different tunings) the soft synths and computer are often more than enough.

3) You have also released music with the sitar player Uwe Neumann as the DreamTree Project. Could you tell us more about this and will there be more releases in the future?
The DreamTree Project is a musical magic carpet ride featuring the classical sitar stylings of Uwe Neumann. I met him a number of years ago after his performance at the Montreal jazz festival. I approached him to see if he was interested in bringing the raga toward the dub music form.  To explore a light classical raga form with dance beats and big bass, aimed at bringing the raga to the electronic festival and a new audience. Who perhaps appreciate bass, as well as good vibrations? We are working on another album, but it's taking some time as we both also have busy solo careers to answer too.

We had a number of great performances last year and have developed some new material and hope this year to get more of it down on tape!

4)     You also produce scores for film and television how would you compare this to the music you release yourself?

Indeed, for the past ten years or so I have been exploring and developing music for film, both scoring to picture and licensing. A lot of the music that I write for film is a lot more ambient, and varied in style, for example one of my most recent projects for National Geographic where I was scoring lots of animal movement using tribal rhythm and drumming, with sound design layers and guitar layers (both midi and local guitarists).  You can hear examples of my film music on a recent release "Resonance" that is about to get re-released on ambient down-tempo label White Swann in the U.S. in the next few months.

5)      You’ve played numerous festivals all over the world. Do you have a particular favourite and where can fans see you this year?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite as they all have such unique experiences. Some notable festivals are Water Women festival in Ecuador.  Such an amazing location with a profound indigenous presence, amazing ceremonies and music (It’s the most profound festival that I’ve been too). While Luminate festival over in New Zealand combines lush countryside, super friendly people and good vibrations. Basscoast and Shambhala festival’s on the West coast of Canada and the Beloved festival in Oregon (sacred world music/electronic festival) has an amazing vibe with amazing music. Still up there in ranking the Samothraki dance festival in Greece in the early noughties with a volcano, warm ocean , 5.1 surround chill out , amazing artists, amazing food and little hotels.  Keep an eye on my web-site for current and forthcoming live performances.

6)     You released a re-mix album last year of 2010’s Universal Frequencies is their any new material in the pipeline?
I’ve got a few things going on this year. White Swann as previously mentioned are re-releasing Resonance (along with bonus tracks) as well as a best of compilation in a chilled yoga style due out in the fall.
There’s also volume 2 of Refractions featuring the Kaya Project, Desert Dwellers, Spoonbill and Drumspyder due for April the 20th. A solo album/ep on Wonderwheel for this year which features some of my more Latin influenced tunes and a solo ep through SonicTurtle this fall consisting of new bass heavy music from my new side-project  Basswhallah.  These are heavy ethno bass tunes, far heavier and harder than the tunes I release as "Adham Shaikh.”


Monday, 25 February 2013

Various Artists - Turntables On Las Ramblas Review

Artist: Various

Title: Turntables On Las Ramblas

Label: Wonderwheel Recordings

Release Date: 19th March 2013

Admittedly this release is probably more dance floor orientated than either dub or chill but I really like the Wonderwheel releases so jumped at the chance of reviewing it anyway. Turntables on las Ramblas is the 1st of the Turntables on the Hudson "City to City, River to River" series connecting various DJ's, artists, musicians & party people city to city that will soon feature Turntables on the Nile, Turntables in Lima, Turntables on the Caribbean & more…

Basing this release on the thriving scene in Barcelona it’s only natural to expect a heavy Latin influence on the album and it’s doesn’t fail to comply starting with Sabo’s Moombahton edit of Carlos Barbosa & Blasterjack’s “Toca Flute” which as the title implies is a fusion of heavy percussion and soothing flute with rub-a-dub samples injected at suitable moments.

The housier Sujinho re-mix of Nickodemus’s “Los Tarontas” I’d already picked up on the preceding sampler e.p. I really like the original but this re-mix really tears me in two. There’s a delayed synth employed which I find too harsh and way overused, making the intro and outro very repetitive. However the tweaks, delays and extensions on the piece in between (especially on the strings) are top notch. So I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on this one.

Barcelona’s Oscar Barilla re-works Sid Vaga’s latest release “Manouche” which is a funky enough track with an 80’s feel to the bass line. Although, I have to confess to preferring his last release “Brazuca” which I used as the opener in my set for House of the Flying Eyeball’s “My Favourite Things” radio show on BoxFrequency FM.

I hope I haven’t put anyone off yet as I wouldn’t say I dislike this release. On the contrary it’s a rump shaker throughout which I can see myself playing from time to time at appropriate moments. Additionally this release has introduced me to some new artists where I’d be inclined to dig a little deeper.

One in particular that caught my ear was Novalima’s “Macaco” bursting with horns and vocals it’s seemed to me like the Bueno Vista Social Club with a modern edge, which finishes in an almost reggae vibe. While Captain Planet (whose previously re-mixed Alice Russell, Erykah Badu and Vieux Farka Toure) re-mixes Los Chicharrons “Mar Do Nar” where I’d hazard a guess the vocals are actually African rather than Spanish or Catalan. Toti & Andy Loop’s re-mix of “Barcelona” by Catalan band La Troba Kung-Fú is also worth a mention as the piece retains a live band feel and has a real sunshine vibe about it.

Reviewed by Woodzee

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Subaqueous - Threshold of Night Review

Artist: Subaqueous

Title: Threshold of Night

Label: Critical Beats

Release: February 2013

‘The Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel for those of you, who don’t know, tells the story of 16 year old Pi being stranded on a boat with a 450 pound Bengal Tiger. Without giving away the ending (the Tiger did it, in the library with a blunt instrument to the head)!!!

I found it to be a story about Faith...a belief in the more beautiful story, although it presents us with the problem of two differing versions of ‘the truth’. Stick with this it will make sense in the end!

The primary goal of Critical Beats was to raise awareness and money for non-profits working in Amazon conservation and sustainable education. Initially funds were raised through the release of a compilation album constructed through the following steps …
Step 1:
Indigenous songs, instruments, nature sounds, stories, and spoken word are gathered from tribal communities, sustainability schools, and artists in the Amazon and Sacred Valley
Step 2:
The recordings are shared with music producers around the world
Step 3:
New songs are created which incorporate the collaborative efforts of both cultures
Step 4:
The new songs are compiled into a Critical Beats album which is used to raise awareness and funds for Amazon conservation
Step 5:
Events are held featuring the original music created for the Critical Beats project
Step 6:
Through dancing and celebrating, listeners and attendees are contributing to a cause while gaining increased awareness of the state of the Amazon, its communities, and possible ways to take action
Step 7:
All proceeds go to projects and non-profits in the Amazon working for conservation, sustainable education, and protection of indigenous rights.

This concept has continued resulting in further releases from a variety of artists most notably the album “Rainforest Reverberation” by Bluetech (a.k.a. Evan Marc who has been actively involved with the project).

Last month Critical Beats transferred $5000+ in previous album sales to support organizations like Metareilá of the Suruí People in Brazil. This group is a Rainforest Action Network Protect-An-Acre participant who is using Google mapping and carbon rights to help protect their land.

Moving back to the music “Threshold of the Night” the latest release from Critical Beats depending upon your viewpoint this is either-

A) The first view is that this is an EP with four tracks of solid, but on the whole unspectacular music and two tracks, 1 and 5 standing out above the rest.

Track 1 ‘Shimmers in the dark’ featuring Jamil opens with a Sufi quote that ‘everything is light, even in the dark there is dark light’. Which surely could be considered a parable for our times? It then proceeds to develop into a sinuous Dub bass driven track with the sensual spoken words of Jamil.

Track 5 ‘Visions embrace’ featuring Masaru Hig sounds like a delightful collision between Mediterranean sounding guitars and what sounds like a Japanese instrument. This is a truly delightful track that floats by like the promise of spring on the breeze.

B) The second view is this is an EP full of six tracks ideal for horizontal listening with tracks 1 and 5 sounding out above the rest.

Track 1 ‘Shimmers in the dark’ featuring Jamil opens with a Sufi quote that ‘everything is light, even in the dark there is dark light’. Which surely could be considered a parable for our times? It then proceeds to develop into a sinuous Dub bass driven track with the sensual spoken words of Jamil.

Track 5 ‘Visions embrace’ featuring Masaru Hig sounds like a delightful collision between Mediterranean sounding guitars and what sounds like a Japanese instrument. This is a truly delightful track that floats by like the promise of spring on the breeze.

So...using Life of Pi as the analogy (at last...I hear you cry) you can choose which version to agree with...which is the more agreeable story? Which version will enrich your life?

Don’t just listen to me , dear readers, go out and make your own minds up and remember’s all for an exceptionally worthy cause.

Reviewed by Matthew Foord 


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Kick Bong - The Secret Garden Review

Artist: Kick Bong

Album: The Secret Garden

Label: Cosmic Leaf Records

Release: 28th Jan 2013

The Secret Garden is Franck Jousselin’s 6th album and it is a genuine pleasure to review it.  As once again he creates outstanding melodic compositions with pinpoint accurate arrangements that draw you in immersing you completely within the sound.

The production on The Secret Garden is in a class of it's own with the attention to detail clearly evident in the intricate layering and placing of the various instruments and effects. Yet, each tune flows easily and effortlessly to create soundscapes that travel deep inside and envelop you completely. 

The album opens with the sparse echoing heartbeat of 'Just Let Go' which with it's gentle hang drum melody, New Order esque chorus plucked guitar and female vocal sample acts as the guide to enter into The Secret Garden. The New Order like guitar is used subtly and to great effect on several tunes and most notably on 'Live In On Dream' & Guardian Angel' which links them all together as a cohesive whole. On 'Guardian Angel' there is a deep dub like feel to it with a more pronounced bass line that, combined with the eerie synth’s creates a feeling of shifting unease and drama. 

Each sample is used effectively on each tune and adds extra dimension and meaning. There is also the best use of a Mad Men one I have ever heard. In fact I don't think I have ever heard Mad Men being sampled before.  The first half of the album has a brooding intensity to it but this is counter balanced as the album progresses. I am not going to give too much away because the natural transition is sublime and delightful when it hits . .. Pure elevation!

The way this whole album is constructed reminds me of those proficient dj's who know how to take a crowd on a journey without them fully realising how they arrived at the end destination but just really glad they were brought there.

There is so much more that I could say about this album but I really don't want to give all it's secrets away before you even step foot inside. I will say though that The Secret Garden is bursting with strange, beautiful vibrant colour and sound and I strongly advise you to journey right into the centre of it.

Review by CKA John


Friday, 1 February 2013

Kiwi - On The Move Review


Artist: Kiwi

Album: On The Move

Label: Self Release

Released: Jan 2013

Coming from New Jersey NY this eight piece reggae unit would have you believing (through the warm sunny feel of the music) that they come from much warmer climes. Although, their lead singer Alex Tea. Has probably brought some musical influence to the band from his time spent in Brazil.

The bedrock and overall feel of the album is built around traditional reggae rhythms but within this the band explore and play with different style's (blues, soul, jazz), and also different tempo's and instrumentation. Yet none of these excursions ever lose the overall chilled vibe of the album, there is even the beat less Eno’esque excursion 'Expanse' that also works with its rising and falling strings.

Then it’s right back to the skankin once more with that soulful tight horn section and accomplished rhythm, guitar. With Alex even singing in what I believe to be Brazilian Portuguese. If I was to compare them to someone then most definitely Bob Marley and The Wailers or The Skatalites spring to mind but there is no direct copying of sound, just influence. With all this diversity of genre's and tempo you may think that the album wouldn't have an overall cohesive feel to it but it does.

Further to this Alex's voice and intelligent lyrics add extra depth to each song. Kiwi to my mind, have created a great album of reggae tunes but with an added dimension to them. I'd strongly recommend it especially with summer just round the corner.

Reviewed by CKA John