Thursday, 29 May 2014

Desert Dwellers - Nomadic Ecstatic 'The Wandering Sadhu Re-Mixes' Vol 2

Desert Dwellers

Nomadic Ecstatic:
The Wandering Re-mixes Vol 2

Black Swan Sounds

27th May 2014

Only a month ago with the release of Nomadic Ecstatic Vol 1 I mentioned that some listeners may construe this release as more of the same re-worked. Re-mix releases can at times never reach the heights of an original you really like and with the song or track firmly ingrained in your mind the bar is set high. This applies more so where there is a length of time between the original and the re-mix for me. In some cases I hear a re-mix first and that becomes the bar to beat as such. As a firm fan of the Desert Dwellers releases I feel myself anticipating a let down with re-mix releases. However, I consistently find myself pleasantly surprised with the overall output and always pluck a few gems out and 'Nomadic Ecstatic 2' proved to be no exception.

From the moment I pressed go and began to listen to Beatfarmer's (a producer I've only recently started to explore) take of 'Kumbh Mela' the dubby string chords of the sitar and tribal murmurs lead into similarly dubby bass notes and sparse tribal percussion, which collectively form an Eastern dub reggae vibe and I began to suspect I'd like this release.

Next up is Suduaya's re-mix of the title track 'A Wandering Sadhu' I've heard a couple of intriguing ambient tracks by Suduaya but on further exploration hit psy-trance and retreated. Obviously some producers have more than one string to their bow and going by this Suduaya is one of those producers. The vocals sit nicely on melodic synth chords which have the feel of a trance breakdown. However, as the bass kicks in we travel into an interesting loop which switches into a lush melodic section and then an ambient drone before circling back to where we started. Highly recommended.

This is followed by Itom Lab's (who yet again I've only really scratched the surface with their output) re-mix of 'The Embrace of Samadhi'. Fusing a marching (but not driving bassline) with a acidic breaks feel evenly balanced with ambient tones and vocals, throw in some Gregorian monk chants and a touch of bamboo flute and this is a pleasant and reasonably refreshing take on the original.

Now I find myself back to the title track and this time the duties fall on Eastern Sun. Who I came across at the same time as the Desert Dwellers on (funnily enough) a re-mix album of the Laya Projects. The intro lays melodic strings over teasing dnb style drum flicks but as the track drops a reggae stance is revealed this continues for a couple of minutes before the low frequency bass is injected and rejoined by the melodic strings and vocal. Overall a suitable alternative and useful tool if you're looking to employ the track in a different set.

Last but not least is a re-work of 'Shiva Naturaj' by someone I'm more familiar with, world music multi-instrumentalist Jeff Stott. I really like what Jeff has done here although he's employed some low frequency bass, along with some beautiful melodic bell tones. He's released it and drawn it back in all the right places. Subtley, allowing the vocal to carry you into a mantra like daydream. I like this version so much, that it could prove to be my favourite version of them all.

To summarise if you're a fan of the Desert Dwellers I advise you not to dismiss these re-mixes and similarly if you're new to their music or you've randomly come across this review. If Eastern spiritual music fused with electronic Western sounds appeals why not press play? If it's not to your taste you can always press stop.

Review by Woodzee.


Monday, 19 May 2014

Kaya Project 'Firedance' Review

Artist: Kaya Project

Title: Firedance

Label: Interchill

Released: 13th May 2014

Seb Taylor the mastermind behind the Kaya Project has released his music in many guises, from the synthetic chill of Hibernation and the global lounge of Angel Tears to Bio-Tones tech-house re-mixes to name a few. It seems whichever, style organic or synthetic he turns his mind to it works well. This is the fifth album released on Interchill in his Kaya Project guise, the last album 'Desert Phase' travelled across continents with field or rather desert recordings, reflected with the music from country blues to the sounds of Arabia.

The album launch for 'Firedance' took place recently at one of London's premier chill spots the InSpiral Lounge with support from Whirl-Y-Gig's Monkey Pilot. Having seen it advertised on my last visit I quite fancied going but was sadly unable to make it. So making do with the recorded audio I'll press on.

This album features the sultry vocals of two previous collaborators, Irina Mikhailova and Natasha Chamberlain as well as Pearce van der Merwe on Flute. Seb's production takes us on a journey through down-tempo Arabic numbers and chilled strings to upbeat tribal percussion. The title track 'Firedance' for example is a smouldering hot pot of Arabesque strings, African chants, percussion and Gypsy violin balanced beautifully with chilled breakdowns. Despite the quantity of sounds and styles input into the track it flows far smoother than it sounds. With 'Todero' on the other hand all I can picture in my minds eye is a swirling dervish dance carried along by Irina's lucid voice which while dominating your attention the accompanying music adds but never distracts. While 'The Phoenix Rises' takes a step back into chilled guitar strings with an almost orchestral feel in places a gorgeous backdrop for Natasha's wonderfully ethereal tones.

This album will definitely appeal to fans of previous Kaya Project releases, Irinas own music and that of other projects such as Star Sounds Orchestra and Lumin and possibly Vas, Dead Can Dance or Irfan.

Review by Woodzee.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Eccodek 'Singing In Tongues' Review

Artist: Eccodek

Title: Singing In Tongues

Label: Black Swan Sounds

Released: 6th May 2014

Andrew McPherson's releases gel the sounds of Africa, the Middle-East and beyond with dub and electronica. Shying away from digital fusions his Eccodek project utilises hardware and organic instruments, along with a host of guest singers such as Jah Youssouf, Onkar Singh, Meral Mert and MC Yogi. 'Singing in Tongues' is his sixth album release and his tracks have featured on compilations from the likes of Buddha Bar, Six Degrees, Supperclub and Black Swan.

The album kicks off with 'The Village In Me' a funky number where African vocals sit on top of horns, conjuring up a sound reminiscent of the Afro-Beat numbers of the 1970's. We then take a turn towards the Middle-East where the oud slides you into deep bass notes and vocals drift in and out in a dreamy fashion. The title track 'Singing In Tongues' immediately brought Issa Bagayogo to mind with both the strings and the vocals, blended with subtle hypnotic synth sounds creating a chilled vibe to the piece. While Black Swan label mate MC Yogi lays down a laid back rhyme amongst African vocals, chilled synths and strings on 'My Primitive Heart'.

The album continues with the exception of 'The End Begins' a chilled out Balkan groove, in much the same fashion of laid back Afro-Beat'esque numbers. Although there is plenty of tribal drums there's nothing of impact on the album and takes a more chilled stance overall compared to previous releases. This new laid back style appears to have worked well for Andrew, bringing high praise from reviews in the World Music media.

Review by Woodzee


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lauge & Baba Gnohm Interview

1) Could you tell us a little about yourselves and your musical backgrounds before Lauge & Baba Gnohm was formed?
The project of Lauge & Baba Gnohm started out as an experiment in spring 2008 – When two strangers Kalle Christensen and Henrik Laugesen decided to meet up and exchange remix files for Henrik’s track “Verbed Shower” from the album “Lauge - Sundays”. As revealed in our biography we first met in Christiania (Copenhagen, DK), and after a brief chat and a cup of coffee we headed back to the studio. We started working on what would later become our very first collaboration track “The Perfect Stranger” - Which was released on the German record label “Blue Tunes Recordings”. This very track has now been our most released and re-licensed track so far.
 Before teaming up we both had our own solo-projects going on - Kalle was mainly into psychedelic trance with his project ”GnOhm”, but started out as a guitarist playing rock music in the 90s early 00s. Since an early age and before Henrik was focusing on chill-out and ambient music under the alias “Lauge” or as part of the group “Orbital Peace” – He was part of projects making hard-trance, uplifting-trance and goa-trance. Despite having two different musical backgrounds, and often with very different ideas about sounds and composition more tracks were created.
In 2009 we released our first EP on “Soundmute recordings” called “Daybreak”. This EP carried the sound that would later become our signature sound, not only to us but also to numerous people around the globe. Later in 2010 our EP “Monolith” followed. This EP still carried bits of our sound from the “Daybreak” EP, but with a more dark and psychedelic feel to it. In 2011 our first and so far only full-length album “Langbortistan” was released on the Canadian label “Altar Records”. This album really explored a more psychedelic side of us, and laid the ground for what Lauge & Baba Gnohm sounds like today.

2) Which artists influenced your sound?
We have had lots of different sources for inspiration, but to name a few and more significant to us as a project – We must definitely mention artists such as Pink Floyd, Jean-Michel Jarre and Solar Fields. But not only musicians have been influencing our sound, we have also used TV documentaries like Planet Earth as a source for inspiration and of course the beautiful nature of Scandinavia has also had an impact on our sound.

3) Could you tell us about your studio set-up?
For the moment we live quite far from each other, and have split the studio into two different ones. We aim to have almost similar studios to be able to compose tracks, and send them back and forth through the internet. Right now we are running with different DAW’s, Henrik is using Ableton Live while Kalle is using Studio One. We are both big fans of software from Native Instruments, Audio Damage, Spectrasonics and Waves. Almost every track we do contains stuff from these developers. Besides running with software we also like using our synthesizers and hardware effects from Clavia, Access, Lexicon and Yamaha to name a few.

4) When creating a track how much emphasis is placed on live performance?
When we first started out this was not part of our ideas, but as the years have gone by we’ve made more and more emphasis on creating tracks for live-performance. The latest track we have made called “Drømmesyn” (Dream Vision) was recorded as a “live” take, and we have been discussing whether to or not to create an album this way.

5) Of the events you've performed at, which did you enjoy most?
We have had many great experiences with our project, but there is one event that stands out from the rest. The “Dreaming – Awakening / Shared Light” party in Kiev, Ukraine 2011. Everything lived up to expectation with high standards all the way from the organizers to the lovely audience at the party.

6) Do you have any live gigs planned for this year?
For the moment we haven’t got anything scheduled, but we are working on visiting the US and Russia during 2014 before taking a break from gigs and focusing on another album.

7) Do you see your music sticking to the same formats or do you see yourselves branching out into new directions and genres?
Our tracks do carry some kind of similarity from one track to the next. More recently we have gone in different directions on our own and have re-established our solo projects, and also established new collaborations – Kalle went on making a glitch psystep EP with Danish producer Messy Mass, while Henrik has been doing Minimal Techno tracks and gigs with Danish techno DJ Christian Rütz. Once in a while we still do get back together as Lauge & Baba Gnohm and continue working on a second album and various compilation tracks.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Baka Beyond 'After The Tempest' Review

Artist: Baka Beyond

Album: After The Tempest

Label: March Hare Music

Released: May 21st 2014

Baka Beyond's music came to my attention through the London event Whirl-Y-Gig but they are far from simply a band combining African music with Celtic folk. Their music was inspired from working with the Baka forest people in Cameroon where they have spent several months of each year for over twenty years. Setting up the charity Global Music Exchange to facilitate this vision.

The release begins with 'Sylkie' and those like myself who have read the folklore of the Celtic people will recognise the mermaid like tale of the seals who become human on land. It begins with the lush natural sound of the water drums, violin strings and alluring Celtic vocals before counterbalancing with the guitar and tribal percussion.

The next track 'Heart of the Night' which is based on a traditional Baka song 'Tolo Ko Tolo' begins with some tribal chanting and drumming which is soon joined by the guitar and some lovely feminine French vocals. I'd certainly draw comparisons with African Headcharge at this point. Throw some nature inspired female folk vocals to the mix and all in all it's a lovely track.

'Mosumana Colle' has an upbeat Caribbean feel about it. However, it's another Baka song about a woman crying to her mother about her unfaithful husband. Meanwhile he doesn't understand the problem as he has acted no differently from all the men around him.

The album then drifts through some traditional Irish folk before reaching 'Nangating' a Baka word meaning 'All of us together' where guitar meets, the Baka Mougongo (mouthbow), Su and Ellie's mouth music and the Irish fiddle.

The album also contains music Baka Beyond performed as a Soundtrack for a production of William Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' by David Goff Eveleigh at Penpont House, Wales in 2013. 'Imbaye' a Baka song they recorded and have often used as an encore to live shows since 2000 and a Song penned by Su regarding the tragic and yet inspiring story of Malala the girl shot by the Taliban for encouraging other girls to go to school. If somehow, you missed this story she survived and goes to school in the U.K.

For me I found this cd a lovely accompaniment to a sunny day and especially loved the first two tracks. Combine this with the wonderful concept of the whole Baka Beyond project which is indeed inspiring. The only only downside I can find is I can't help the feeling that would be so much better to experience a live show.

Review by Woodzee.


Thursday, 1 May 2014

'Desert Dwellers - Nomadic Ecstatic: The Wandering Re-mixes Vol. 1' Review

Desert Dwellers

Nomadic Ecstatic:
The Wandering Re-mixes Vol 1

Black Swan Sounds

Release Date:
29th April 2014

The Desert Dwellers have been quite active on the release front this year and this five track re-mix single could be construed by some as more of the same re-jigged. For me personally I think they are going from strength to strength from the laid back bamboo flutes and tablas of the 'Downtemple Dub' series to the bass re-mixes of the 'Re-Calibrated' albums and the psy-filled grooves of their Twisted Records release 'Seeing Things' I'm lapping it up.

On this release I think there's a strong selection of tracks with re-mixes from the U.K.'s veteran of global ambient dub Banco De Gaia and two of America's world fusion aficionados Jeff Stott and Drumspyder* as well as a couple of new names to me Kaleidoscope Jukebox and Chaos Control.

The release begins with Drumspyder's take on 'Wandering Sadhu' which on the whole bounces between the dum tek of the darbuka and low frequency bass. Once the vocals join in it's quite a happy little groove that chugs along nicely enough with a few variable breakdowns on route.

Next up is Kaleidoscope Jukebox's re-mix of 'Saraswati Mata' I usually plump for the Adham Shaikh re-mix but kept an open mind when pressing play. I certainly wasn't disappointed as this version retains the vocals and eastern strings with plenty of dub reggae chords and echo that you can easily delve into.

Banco De Gaia's re-work of 'Shiva Nataraj' provides a lovely elongated synth journey that carries you on a space like under-current beneath the tablas and Nicole Jenson's vocals. Having heard an abundance of re-works of his own material it made a pleasant change to hear his imprint on someone else's building blocks again,

Jeff Stott brings us back to the 'Wandering Sadhu' again this take is lighter in places retaining more of the bamboo flute than Drumspyders. It's still bass music but in more of a teasing manner and also provides some nice percussion of it's own. Although, I generally like both artists this one strikes more of a chord with me.

Last but not least is Chao's Control's re-work of 'Mysterious Presence' which begins with a lovely spacey synth, chimes and vocals and although they inject the odd psy flutter the laid back feel is retained when the percussion and sitar joins in. Perfect temple vibes for the hammock.

Review by Woodzee


* Fans of Drumspyder should keep an eye out for a couple of other new releases 'Mountain Drums' on the Luminosity Projects 'Lumineyez Vol 1' and 'Bayati Violet Dub' on Phantasm Records 'Anti Particle'