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BEATTOPIA

by William Hancock.

Category

world music

Diana May Clark – The Other Side Of The Girl.

“Many Facets of International Style for Aussie Songstress”.

After singing on Delicate from Amanaska’s latest album Escape, Diana May Clark has unleashed a singularly undefinable album in terms of genre. With influences of rock, country, latin and world music all wrapped up in a pop style package this is an album that will appeal to the masses. Produced by Greg Arnold (now based internationally) from Things of Stone and Wood and virtuoso guitar by Diana May’s husband and collaborator Doug de Vries, this songstress winds her way through an internationally flavoured album including tracks titled Mama Africa, Vanilla vs. Barcelona, Batucada Bonde and Tango Noir. With a strong sense of self, a voice that is as adaptable as it is powerful and a passion that exudes from her very soul, the album smacks of a writer and musician that is invested in the core of the music. Diana and Doug travel to Brazil regularly searching for inspiration and enjoying collaboration, imbibing in the richness of the culture and transporting it back into stage shows performed across the world

Making a successful jump from interpreting Brazilian songs to pop in 2013 with her first single release Sunny Daze, achieving 6th place in the Australian Songwriters Association Awards and Top 5 at the 2013 Independent Music Awards, Clark had a string of single releases followed before blending into the new album. In 15 years she’s released 6 albums, 1 EP and 3 singles with more on the way.

With the voice of a siren, global musicianship and angelic composition The Other Side Of the Girl by Diana May Clarke is a whole new world of sound.

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Suns of Arqa – All Is Not Lost But Where Is It?

 

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“Father of the Suns Collaborates with Downbeat Heavyweights to bring Life”.

Suns of Arqa have been hailed at times as one of the greatest pioneers of downbeat and world fusion in the modern era. Coming together in the late 70’s under the watchful eye of Michael Wadada, the collective has since ushered through over 200 artists, let fly around 60 releases, been recording for over three decades and have just released their latest full length album on Liquid Sound Design, All Is Not Lost But Where Is It? Featuring The Orb, Youth and Raja Ram.

Wadada formed SOA in 1979 after receiving higher guidance during a trip to Kingston, Jamaica whilst working with Prince Far-I, the traditional roots reggae chanter of legendry status. Invited by Peter Gabriel to play at the first WOMAD festival The Suns have released on Virgin, EMI and their own label Arqa Sound, played Boom, Roskilde, Glastonbury and Big Chill and have been credited with prolific and seminal influence on the World Beat sound. Finley Quaye, Zion Train and Steve Hopkins are amongst a hefty list of collaborators with Alex Patterson from The Orb, UK producer Youth and Raja Ram of Shpongle featuring on the latest release. Featuring the spoken words of John Cooper Clarke, produced by Martin ‘Youth’ Glover (as his first release since Pink Floyd’s The Endless River) the album is under distribution from Arabesque Digital with the release being directed by Triskele Management.

 Over the years The Suns have worked across the realms of World Music to combine the Piobaireachd music of the Scottish Highlands with Hindustani raga systems and Nyabinghi roots drumming of the Rastafari. The result is a deeply spiritual vibration that merges cultures, faiths and musical genres.

Erasmus Dub begins with a haunting wood flute from Raja Ram before dropping heavily into a Shpongle-esque dub flavoured beat. Several different male voices for the sampling and some deep driving bass lines fleshing out the halting rhythm make for a track that quenches any Shpongle-lovers thirst. The video is worth a quick look on Liquid Sound Design’s Facebook page.

The Fool Ascends is a progressive electro downbeat masterpiece. Dipping and rolling through waves of synth-washed, deep, bassy beats the acoustically instrumental flute floating over the top contrast beautifully to keep the listener locked in and flying high. Strangely enough the beat count comes in at around 120 but feels a lot slower. Perhaps there’s even a Terence McKenna sample in there to keep us on our toes. Either him or John Cooper Clarke.

Pablo’s Lament runs over the eight minute mark and begins inncocently enough in a reggae flavoured track complemented by harmonica. The oscillators begin working themselves in after about a minute and double time the background to create a marvellous composition of true downbeat textbook definition. Textured with many different samples and sounds one can only wonder why Pablo was lamenting so, and wether this track cheered him up or not.

The background of the band is impressive, the album itself delivers an electro downbeat sound worthy in any afficionado’s collection and is obviously the tip of the iceberg in a career spanning millennia, several major changes in popular music formats and an impressive release list. The spirituality of Wadada is evident in the progression of the band. He sums it thus; “It is the ultimate sound to take us through the changes to come. Where sound is not just a backdrop to life but ultimately is life itself”.

Buddha Bar – Hotel Paris. by Dj Ravin.

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“New Release Gives Strength to Good Old Times”.

Buddha Bar – Hotel Paris opened in June 2013 on the Right Bank in the heart of Saint- Honore. Rooms with all the mod. cons from 323.00 Euro a night come complete with a complimentary Buddha Bar compilation. The most recent album in this series was released in November 2014 and compiled by DJ Ravin.

Ravin met Claude Challe, the founder and owner of the Buddha Bar at a club called The Rex in Paris while djing at a party for Wiz Bombino. The two ended up collaborating on a few singles and after Ravin became house DJ at The Buddha Bar, they began to put together mix-tapes that reflected the sets Ravin was playing at that time. Since then he’s produced over 10 albums for the series, two solo albums and a couple of experimentally-eclectic, themed compilations.

This album has been great to listen to. Many repetitions and it still doesn’t seem to be getting tiring. The track list is nicely done, reflecting several different styles. The progression moves smoothly and unpredictably, creating a texture in the order that is refreshing. The mixes themselves are deft, yet not over the top. Just enough to make the album flow.

It starts strongly with the impeccable Gandhara by Amanaska from their recently released album, Escape. Chilled, regal and of a quality that is still hard to find even in this now saturated downbeat electronica environment.

Woman of the Ghetto (Akshin Alizadeh Remix) by Marlena Shaw is a nugget of gold. Every once in a while tracks like these pop their head up. Rare form and a welcome surprise this funky little number grooves itself away, set off by catchy sax and guitar riffs. Contrast these with a melodious little sprite of a happy little tone oscillating its way through a solid-yet-subtle, percussive, funk-infused groove. The guitar riff complements the sax perfectly as samples of Mistress Marlena drop in and out. Keys. All out. So freaking good.

Matham Dub by Thor. Exquisite. Deep dubby synth stabs over a slower epically composed percussion section. Middle eastern chants and strings floating gives a goose-pimple experience.

Sunshine featuring Matthias Wittmann (Thomas Atzmann Remix) is pretty smooth. Nice housey beat with layers of deep rich male vocals. Fairly minimal but tastefully arranged and some notable string sections flowing seamlessly into Herneise by Boral Kibil and Mahmut Orhan. This hauntingly atmospheric, deep, melodic house number sports a stomping kick drum and bass line. Atmospheric synth melodies and soaring string sections backed by percussion beds and a hypnotic synth hook give to a dancefloor with progressive sections that not only highlight the beautiful production but the impeccable composition. Brilliant. Another ripper.

Children of Love by Paji flows right on where Herneise leaves off. While not quite as deep as the one before the composition is remarkably similar and seems to have a string section that could almost have been played by the same artist. Male vocals, a nice travel on the dancefloor accentuated by a skip in the percussion and a slightly reverberating atmospheric.

The Touch (Radio Edit) by Grum. Electro House with flashes of epicness and a meaty midsection give the album a gear change at an appropriate moment.

Lovers Eyes (Mohe Pi Ki Najariya) by Damien Lazarus & The Ancient Moons is a tribal stomper. The native tongues fly over the top of a subtle tech-house beat. Deep grinding synth stabs contrast the world music beautifully with the hard edge of electronica. Travels well, nice rich sound, good composition.

Fall Underneath (Kilter Remix) by Snakadaktal gives us that great, up and coming indy-dance sound we’ve come to know from radio stations like the ABC’s Triple J.

A jazzy little remix of The Cure’s Tainted Love by Poncho Warwick called Tainted Jazz bops along, lounge stylee.

There’s some great racks on this album, and a few duds but no biggies. The second is a real downer. Depressing but still of a brilliant production standard. The fifth song is an eclectic choice by Ravin and doesn’t really seem to fit the playlist, but perhaps that’s sort of refreshing.

Overall the album doesn’t seem to tire when on repeat, is danceable or can be relaxed to on a low volume. The tracks are generally well picked and mixed, and the songs themselves (even the off ones) seem to be right on the money for the album’s construction as a whole.

Just what the doctor ordered. A pleasure and definitely worth a look.

Freedom Deluxe – Amanaska.

“Downtempo Does Dance in a Blend of Tracks from Ambient to the Bridge”.

Tribe 2 is an Australian based duo from Melbourne, Australia. In July 2013 Simon Lewis (Amanaska) and Jono Callow (Rivertribe) released Freedom Deluxe. With an eclectic blend of world music and electronica the album merges instruments from around the globe.

While probably classified as a downtempo world music album the variety of track speed’s (bpm) range widely. Most of the counts sit above 120 and the double-time sections in several songs give us a dance edge, contrasting the resting count. The albums track selection is balanced by ambient tracks and atmospheric sections.

On Wayfaring Stranger tabla and sitar from India blend with the didgeridoo from Australia throughout one of the slower beat counts on the album (80 bpm). The lilt in the rhythm creates a relaxing line, juxtaposed by the double-time tabla sections allowing a bit of a boogie if required. Solid arrangement and production in the percussion beds makes up for a crisp, full and rich journey. Some of the fast chanting on this track seems to be derived from the unique way in which tabla masters in India pass knowledge onto their students. The rhythms are passed vocally using different syllables to inflect the different strikes on this very complex hand drum-set. These ‘lessons’ have been adapted into the vocal tracks of this song.

Apparently the two musicians came together after logging several sustained years of touring independently overseas, recording with laptops in some far away places including India, Singapore, UK and USA. Upon the decision to collaborate they unfurled a plethora of recordings collected during their travels and sampled them to create songs we hear on the album today.

The haunting Cherokee Morning Song with a male Native American tongue calling to the dawn, combined with deep, spacious synths paints an almost spooky mental picture of the rising sun. This track merges almost seamlessly with the delicately composed I Shall Not Walk Alone featuring a washed out effects over vocal renditions of Ben Harpers lyrics, breaking out of a magnificent choral chant. The flutes float beautifully over the same haunting deep-space synths we heard in the prior song, entwined with the didgeridoo and again contrasting two very different cultures. Atmospherics and tension abound with the double-timed percussion section binding us to the ground.

God of Wonders shares a sitar introduction before dropping solidly into a crisp and boppy tune highlighted by the addictive crack of the snare, sitar again soloing over the top. Flute floats in and the slight reverb of the toppy drums gives the didge room to move. 100 bpm feels a little slower than the carry this one gives us.

With the acoustic elements of Rivertribe combining with the electronic aspects of Amanaska, both fusing the world music element, this album gives the listener a pleasant and interesting journey through a collision between cultures. The indigenous sounds of eastern and the western instruments blend with well-rounded beats, a variety of different vocal styles and clean production to make for an album that has an up-tempo feel while embracing the slower genres.

Pravana – Eastern Meditations.

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“Yoga and Meditation Soundtrack Takes an Epic Flight”.

For any music buff now and then a song comes along that stops us in our tracks. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. A nugget of gold plucked from the soil. Searched for, wished on and carefully panned out of the river. One of these such tracks is a piece from downtempo electronica act Pravana. Its called Garuda, from their 2009 album release Eastern Meditations. With a carefully selected angle into the yoga, meditation and relaxation sector this asian-flavoured menu’s main course is named after a large, humanoid bird from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The Phoenix is a contemporary representation of the animal and Indonesia has adopted a more stylistic representation as its national symbol, the Javanese Eagle.

The track starts with a percussive bed reminiscent of the hammered dulcimer over tabla inspired beats. It’s the strings that take flight in a well arranged and brilliantly delivered scalar sequence of epic proportions. For a chillout track this is one gigantic bird taking flight. The bed tracks forward on the rails, filled out with the melodies of bells as the strings wind progressively through a duet of viola and cello that is breathtaking.

It’s a well thought out album angle with the relaxation, meditation and yoga all bound into the production. Not too busy, yet not too quiet it hits the spot for any downtempo inner-work accompaniments, providing a fresh and uplifting soundtrack for meditation, yoga and dreaming. Well composed, easily digested and beautifully produced it is the third sonic adventure from Simon Lewis, creator of the chillout/world music outfit, Amanaska. It fuses typically ancient stringed and percussive instrument sounds of the east, with the Australian indigenous call of the didgeridoo, bringing together sonic lands as far away as Bali’s Gamelan and the Tibetan Harmonium.

A great album to chillout, work or just breathe with. Complex in its simplicity and unassuming enough to sit subtly in the background or to turn up loudly and dominate a yoga flow, assisting in introspection or a flight of fancy.

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