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by Todd Warnke
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Joi - We Are Three RealWorld

Joi - We Are Three RealWorld 49871-2


  Joi, formed by the two Shamsher brothers in England in the early '90s, have always drawn on music from their native Bangladesh, but with We Are Three, they, or more accurately, younger brother Farook uses field tapes made in their native land by elder brother Haroon as the basis for dance floor drones. The centerpiece is Prem, built around a heartfelt vocal by a 14 year old girl from the brother's birth village. Against a keyboard wash and drone, her vocal aches with passion and transforms a simple dance track to a trance pathway to an exotic heaven. The remainder of the album similarly uses instrumental tracks from various musicians from the same village laid against synth drone and dance rhythms. This would be all too common except that the Bangladesh samples are superb and Farook lays down deep and wide grooves. There is, also, a spirit of departure to the album that adds further resonance as Haroon died shortly after returning from his recording trip. Farook, in dedication to his older brother has assembled a memorable album full of the deep Asian vibe Joi was built around.



Invocation - Six Degrees Records

Invocation - Six Degrees Records 1005-2

  Six Degrees Records (www.sixdegreesrecords.com), a small label based in San Francisco, perfectly captures the spirit of their name as each release embodies the connectedness of both music and our little planet. From the blend of techno, dance and bossa nova on the superb debut of Bebel Gilberto, Tanto Tempo, to the most recent release by veteran ethno-ambient artist, Banco de Gaia, Six Degrees consistently seeks out adventurous and talented musicians. Their "Travel Series" of sampler discs is an affordable way to discover what the label offers, but, like most samplers, runs the risk of being so broad that there is no center to hold on to. Fortunately, this is not the case with the thematically linked compilation, Invocation.

A collection of modern classically based music, the central object is the invocation of spirit, mystery and connection. The eleven tracks cover a period of 10 years and 11 different labels so production values vary, but all remain at a very high level, as does the music. The opening track by Erik Ian Walker and Cameron Ember, sets the tone. A single voice, overdubbed to form an ebb and flow choir is gently joined by violin, then double-bass and finally bass clarinet and piano. The music combines technology with ancient church music, giving a religious feel that is only slightly contradicted by the song title, The Kisses, 2nd Movement.

From there we travel though the sweep of Hector Zazou in an acoustic and synthesizer tribute to Persephone, onward with an acapella male trio singing a song from the Caucasus, over to Bulgaria with the famed Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, back eastward with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and on to Ireland with the Monks of Glenstal Abby, with other stops in Canada and England. But for me the most powerful piece is the Jocelyn Pook composition Oppenheimer. Opening with the sound of the wind and then overlaying J.R. Oppenheimer's comments about watching the first atomic explosion and his reflection on Vishnu, the piece moves on, with the squawk of a raven, to a chant from The Yemenite Jews interleaved with a female requiem vocal and underscored by the wind and a synthesizer drone. By its conclusion, both this song, as well the entire album, melds the ancient and the modern; life and death; and each and every one of us. Truly sacred, if not religious music.












































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