Monday, September 15, 2014

CD Review: The Toure-Raichel Collective's 'The Paris Sessions'

The Toure-Raichel Collective
The Paris Sessions

As a follow-up to their 2012 The Tel Aviv Sessions, The Paris Sessions continues to bridge the musical worlds of Israel and Mali together. The collective is Vieux Farka Toure and Idan Raichel. Vieux Farka Toure is the son of the late-Ali Farka Toure, and one of Ali's best guitar jams, "Diaraby," is included. Most of the songs are instrumental jams that are jazz and African-influenced. The collective is joined by musicians, Niv Toar, Daby Toure, Abdourhamane Salaha, Seckouba Diabate, Eyal Sela, and Dialimory Sissoko. The piano adds a plaintive touch to the music, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The vocals are not too showy or overdone. In fact, the entire production is quite poignant, mature, and timeless. The music was recorded in France over Mali, due to the societal/political instability. At any rate, the result is a fantastic overview of Israeli and Malian tunes coming together in a sort of fusion that works. ~ Matthew Forss

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Single Review: Hard Proof's Cassingle Release of "Soul Thing" and "Lake Tana"

Hard Proof
"Soul Thing" and "Lake Tana"

Hard Proof is a Texas-based, Afro-beat collective that will be releasing a new 'cassingle' during Cassette Store Day on September 27, 2014. The release will be digital and as a physical cassette. The instrumental tracks are lively, upbeat, and full of Afro-beat grooves that are funky, psychedelic, and jazzy. Both tunes are headed by guitars, horns, keys, drums, and sax. The result is a groovy mix of Afro-beat melodies that are produced with the aid of a ten-piece line-up. The two-song release is only nine-and-a-half-minutes long, but it seems to linger on much longer than that. In the end, we are left with a groovy medley of lush Afro-beat melodies and rhythms that bring to life jazz and funk sensibilities for a generation thirsty for diverse sounds. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Gypsy Hill's 'Our Routes'

Gypsy Hill
Our Routes
Batov Records

Gypsy Hill is a contemporary gypsy, dub, and folk music group that specializes in the obscure and different. The music is akin to Klezmer, dub, dance, electronica, and Balkan beat sounds, though. The punchy horns, edgy percussion, and strings are playful and refreshing. The music is mainly instrumental throughout. Balkan music has been covered before, but never before has a throbbing, dub beat entered the genre. The lively and upbeat sounds are heady, swirling delicacies of dance music. There are eleven tracks that stir the soul and invigorate the mind. The popular group, Besh O Drom, is even featured on the second track, "Balaka." Fans of gypsy, Klezmer, Balkan jazz, European folk music, and brass bands will appreciate the indigenous complexities of the music. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Arun Ramamurthy Trio's 'Jazz Carnatica'

Arun Ramamurthy Trio
Jazz Carnatica

New York-based and South Indian-influenced, the Arun Ramamurthy Trio waste no time getting down to business bringing Indian Carnatic compositions to life that are centuries old. Arun is the violinist, while Perry Wortman plays bass and Sameer Gupta is in charge of drums. There are some guest artists on piano, violin, and mridangam to round out the instrumental ensemble. The compositions are mostly five to nine-minutes long, which allows for some great melody and rhythm expansion. Also, the tunes possess a creative quality that is innovative and refined. The organic elements are historic and accessible. In this case, it is satisfying to hear the sounds of a by-gone era. Experience historic Indian music in a contemporary setting from the Arun Ramamurthy Trio. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Tour de Force's 'Battle Cry' Double-Disc

Tour de Force
Battle Cry [2 CD]
Dub-Stuy Records

When all the top reggae and dub DJ's in the world come together; Battle Cry results. The impressive two-disc release contains ten different tracks on Disc 1. The dub-steady, electronic, and funk-infused concoctions bring in some guest musicians, including Brother Culture, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Jay Spaker, and Luciano. The whole mix is dub, hip-hop, urban, reggae, and electronic dance music with a soul. Disc 2 contains remixes of eight songs on Disc 1. Most of the songs on Disc 2 contain at least two different remixes per track. Overall, Tour de Force is a great collection of dub-songs with a heavy beat and reggae ambiance. Fans of dub, reggae, dance, electronica, world fusion, and contemporary music will find solace in Battle Cry. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Radio Riddler's 'Purple Reggae'

Radio Riddler
Purple Reggae
MITA Records

2014 is the thirtieth-anniversary of Prince's Purple Rain release and Radio Riddler pays homage to that very successful album with Purple Reggae. However, Radio Riddler's spin on the music involves the reggae genre. Radio Riddler incorporates the help of vocalists, Suggs, Deborah Bonham, Frank Benbini, Naim Cortazzi, Citizen Cope, Sinead O'Connor, Beverley Knight, and Ali Campbell. Every track on Prince's original album are included here, but each tune has a reggae beat and subtle musical nuances that separate them from the originals. At any rate, Radio Riddler knows how to succeed with reggae beats and a slew of guest vocalists that provide a very talented repertoire that should not be ignored. Fans of Prince, Radio Riddler, reggae music and anyone else interested in music should love it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound's 'Steady'

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound
Easy Star Records

Psychedelic roots-reggae? Yes. That is one phrase to describe New York's Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound. The group will be releasing Steady at the end of September and it is packed with thirteen thrilling, reggae-infused tunes. Every song is catchy and full of dance grooves, head-bobbing rhythms, and soulful vocals. As with other Easy Star recordings, Steady continues in the reggae realm with enhanced vigor and pleasant tunes. GPGDS, as they are known, feature great reggae, rock, and pop sensibilities that are unforgettable. There is a jam-band appeal on some of the tracks, but the characteristic syncopated beats inherent in reggae are still present here. Steady is a great release that should please world reggae fans everywhere. ~ Matthew Forss