Monday, November 3, 2008

Ripples Around the World - A Ripple Sampler of World Music Releases

Maybe it's because I'm about to embark on a Ripple-sponsored journey to Turkey, to take in the local scene, see some old friends and re-establish connection with my favorite Turkish artists Yildiz Tilbe and Levent Yuksel (honestly, both albums are amazing slices of Turkish pop, Yildiz being more electronic and Levent being beautiful, near flamenco) or maybe it's just because the world has become a smaller place, and the internet lets us connect with artists from all corners of the globe, or maybe it's because postman Sal slumped in another beautiful batch of CD submissions the other day, this one including some dynamite new international flavors, whatever the reason, I've just been feeling global these days. Perhaps you know the feeling, when Anglo rock and roll just isn't going to satisfy that musical itch you've got and you need something nontraditional, perhaps more exotic, to scratch it. If you've ever had that feeling, then hang tight because today we're going to present you with a slew of world-infused music that just may light your fire and get you to purchase that ticket to a far away land.

Bigga Bush - 13 Faces of Lightning Head

Big news coming your way for fans of Afrobeat, African music or just something a little different in the sound of your dance and bass heavy groove. Lion Head Recordings is the new label from veteran electronic dub producer Glyn "Bigga" Bush. Now this is the guy who created some amazing work with Rockers Hi Fi, long a Ripple favorite for modern dub. The first taste of Bigga's limited edition funk, afro and dub vinyl releases is this tasty disc delving deep into the early '70's Afrobeat style brought back to sparkling life with modern technology, some serious studio wizardry and a handful of swirling dubs and textures.

"Afro Spot," simmers over a percolating bass line, polyrhythms dancing on top, until the horns come in like bursts of lightning descending from the heavens. "Area Boy," defies you to keep your butt in chair while the afrobeat groove plays out, dub style and strong. "Bokoor Sound Special," brings in more modern electrodub technology with some dynamite call and response African vocals. "The NPG," another standout track is as bopping and fresh as any Afrobeat you'll find. Horns, guitar, percussion all floating in a sea of rhythm. Fans of pulsing polyrhythms, Fela Kuti-styled back beats and undulating bass lines won't want to miss this, guaranteed to get your bottom end in motion.

Dream Aria - Transcend

Bursting from the Toronto music scene, Dream Aria blew us away last year with their world-music infused, classical tinged, ambient-gothic rock album, In the Wake, as powerful a debut as we'd heard in a while. Now, our favorite world music fusionists are back with their follow-up Transcend, and the time between albums has been very good to them. Always a strong composer, Don Stagg's new compositions brim with new energy and vitality, heralding a heavier vibe without ever losing the defining Dream Aria sound. And a distinctive sound it is. Don't clump these guys in with the plethora of female-fronted goth-symphonic metal bands. Rather, open your ears to the full Dream Aria experience.

"The Rhythm of Now," propels out of the s
tereo on synths and drums, but in reality it's the amazingly beautiful acoustic piano that drives the song forward and gives it it's distinctive sound. "Labyrinth," brings on the electric guitar, rocking more fiercely than anything on the debut, Stagg's prog tendencies hiding in the complex keyboards under the driving riff. The title cut, "Transcend," brings on an eastern vibe in the guitar tone and polyrhythms, whisking you away to some swirling Arabian dreamscape. "Serpent Nile," recalls In The Wake's gentler ambient tones, until the guitar crashes in reminding you that this is indeed a rock and roll record. All of which brings you to the centerpiece of the album, the two part mini-epic "Pandora's Box," and it's "Prelude," a gorgeous near ambient composition initially, the guitars and drums crunch in as the Dream Aria magic carpet carries you away.

Far East Peach - Round and Round

Coming from Japan, Far East Peach plays a beautiful version of west
ern jazz and ambient tones, highlighted with traditional structures and instruments from Japan. Far East Peach (F.E.P.) was originally conceived to form a new music label in Tokyo with the goal of bringing artists from all over the world together to collaborate and produce works that blend Japanese culture with the rest of the world. To say that they succeeded is an understatement.

This latest offering from the Far East Peach collective is just about as smooth as they come. Absolutely gorgeous moments of ambient/new age abound with acoustic piano and gentle woodwinds, occasionally tinged with a Japanese flute or traditional stringed instrument. But don't think of this as a new-agey recording. F.E.P. isn't afraid to get their muscle on with the more symphonic groove of "Pilgrimage," or the exploratory jazz of "Naughtic." "Geoglyphs," soars with indigenous vocal chants,floats on a sea of ambiance, while "Selene," dances delicately across an acoustic piano, classical in nature, like a lost chamber music gem. This disc has taken up permanent residence in my Ripple mobile, the perfect antidote for when I need to chill in traffic or rest my ears after being pummeled for hours on end by Pope's latest death metal discovery. For all those who enjoy some gorgeous ambient/new wave/electronica with a world flavor, this one is for you.

Orange SkyDat is Voodoo

For those who know me, ya’ll know I got a soft, squishy spot in my heart for metal fusion. Can’t help it, I love it when a band can find some way to effectively combine the intensity, power and muscle of a great metallic riff with a sound that is juxtaposed to that aggression. Check out my review of Puya and you’ll get a feeling for what I’m talking about. No one should successfully be able to fuse metal and salsa and get away with it. But they do.

Seems like lots of bands try to do the same with Reggae, crowbarring metallic riffs into the groove heavy hammock of of the islands. Even though this seems like a pairing that should never work, with Reggae’s laid back vibe being a polar opposite to metal’s venomous attack, Skindred, Bad Brains and the Fear Nuttin Band and others have all approached this tactic with varying degrees of success. Orange Sky approach their version of Reese’s metal (metal and reggae in one album, like peanut butter and chocolate in one bar) with all the right credentials. Hailing from Trinidad, the boys have the music of the islands steaming in their blood. Having served as the opening act for the Scorpions and Yngwie Malmsteen, the boys have learned their metal chops as well.

And at times, what they produce is fantastic. The first three tracks effortlessly marry their scorching riffs to the more laid back vibe of reggae. Check out their reggaeified version of the Scorps “Is There Anybody There?” Full of that rolling reggae bass and thocking drums, group vocals and a lilting skank guitar, yet still metal. And the boys know how to rock also. Pure burners like “Run,” rank up there with some of the meatiest, meanest metal to melt my mind in a millennium. I happen to like the reggaefied tracks better than the straight up ones because I just love that fusion, but overall, definitely a band to watch with significant promise, and one worth picking up if you happen to be a reggae-core freak like me.

One final note. For those who haven't heard, the excellent world music magazine, Global Rhythms is no more. But rather than mourn its loss, we have a new, beautiful magazine to take it's place. Songlines features an entire world of music in each issue, covering everyone from the Buena Vista Social Club and Fela Kuti or Salif Keita to the Magic Numbers, Terry Hall and Franz Ferdinand. Each issue also come with a handy, dandy CD to introduce you to a whole new universe of sounds. My first issues's CD included tracks by Buena Vista Social Club, Calexico, Amaadou & Mariam, Ali Farka Toure and a whole host more.

Produced in a beautiful slick format, for fans of world music, ethnic beats, new sounds or just music in general, it's well worth checking out.


buy here: Bigga Bush: 13 Faces of Lightning Head

Orange Sky: Dat Iz Voodoo

Dream Aria

Orange Sky


Metal Mark said...

I couldn't get into that Orange Sky album. They can play, but it was just a rather bland presentation. They know the styles, but they just don't stir up much emotion at all.

The RIpple Effect said...

I agree completely, Orange Sky wouldn't be for everyone. I like the more Reggae stuff the best, and I think those first three songs are really strong. Fans of reggae/metal might dig it.


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