Published on Wind and Wire - 28 June 2002 - Dance Music

Tribal Groove
Music Mosaic (2002)

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Music Mosaic, the unique label that is releasing themed compilations by licensing individual tracks from artists, has released Didgeridoo Trance Dance, a real kick-ass dance/world fusion/electronica recording. Of course, as you can tell from the title, the didge plays a prominent role in the nine tracks; but even if you're not a huge fan of the ancient aboriginal instrument, the CD still delivers plenty of thrills and inventive electronic rhythmic music in a highly modern vein. While there are some vocals/chants/non-English language lyrics on the album, the music and beats are more or less what this CD is all about - and in that regard, it fits the bill nicely.

Things start off with the sultry lush synth washes, pulsing didge, ethnic singing, and (eventually) rapid-fire drum and bass beats of Gondwana's "Gurrupurung." By playing the synths in a minor key, the song has an element of (third world) mystery to it, even with the hyperkinetic beats. Next up is "Anyway I Tell Ya" from Ganga Girl, which doesn't start particularly memorably, but builds up momentum when the didge and pounding techno/dance beats are thrown into the mix. Then it's time to dance yer ass off! Lost at Last contributes "Awowedas" which is one of the strongest cuts here, with its pulsing synth beats, laser zap effects, and barking didge. There is a repeated refrain from a woman vocalist who has a bewitching voice - yow! Lush synth washes enter the song later and their minor tonality (again) brings an smoky foreboding texture to this track as well. There's even disco-era glissando guitar here!

More techno beats abound amidst cool synth effects, (what sounds like) warm analog keyboards and barking/swirling didge on "Didge-Na-Gig" by Global (one of the higher energy cuts on this nitro-infused album). Of course, no album is (or damn few are) perfect, so you also get the disco-rhythms and goofy "clap your hands and dance," refrain of "Blue Labyrinth" (by Axis), although it's not really that bad (only bad by comparison with the rest here). Andy Graham's "Thunder" starts off sounding like a big band swing-era number (is that Gene Krupa on the drums?). And that's not a bad thing in my book, although this ends up being more or less just a didge and drum number. Still, it's energetic and, if not tuneful, is a rhythm-workout just the same. "Factory Farm" by Didjworks opens with a funkified backbeat and wood sticks along with some of the best didge work on the album; when the synth strings are folded into the rhythm, joined by what sounds like a Japanese koto, the track veers into way-cool world fusion land.

There are two more tracks on the CD, but by now you have an idea what lies ahead for you if opt for Didgeridoo Trance Dance, i.e. beats, beats, and more beats, along with a lot of didge and lots of cyber-cool electronica keyboard work. The tracks are well-sequenced (damn, someone at Music Mosaic sure knows how to lay out an album) and every song is well-produced and well-engineered. If you are a dance music freak, a techno or d and b fan, or someone who is looking to explore their first world fusion meets electronica recording (a subgenre that is tres popular these days), this CD can serve as your first class ticket to the exotic world of fusion. Have a nice trip!

review by Bill Binkelman

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