Tuesday, July 14, 2015

CD Review: The Dolomites' 'Japan Years Volumes I, II, & III'

The Dolomites
Japan Years Volumes I, II, & III [3-CD]
Alien Arts Alliance

The Dolomites, led by Stevhen Koji Baianu, create stirring melodies and rhythms caught between the past and the future by incorporating a mix of influences from Japanese enka to gypsy, Balkan-inspired tunes, and Latin-American cumbia. Confused yet? Need not be. The group, which consists of nearly 70 members from different areas of the globe, celebrates the best of their work in a three-volume EP set comprised of certain years, such as 2006-2009, 2007-2010, and 2006-2010. Each album contains five tracks for approximately twenty-minutes an album. There is a mix of music on each album, but all of it draws upon electronica, cumbia, folk, roots, Balkan, Gypsy, neo-classical, enka, horn-powered ballads, and quirky, percussive renderings throughout. Stevhen's vocals are ruddy and charismatic with similarities to darker Russian folk groups or even ErsatzMusika from Germany. Moreover, the album art should clue you in that this is going to be an interesting ride. For instance, the Jamiroquai or Batman-influenced silhouette artwork on the back of the albums should alert everyone that this is a unique production. Though, some of the vocals are a little rough, out of tune, or drunk-like in nature, but that does not make it a terrible listen. In fact, anyone seeking unique, world music with numerous geographic influences will find The Dolomites solid as a rock (pun intended). ~ Matthew Forss

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