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

Tribal Groove
Music Mosaic (2002)

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Tribal Groove, one of the "licensed-tracks compilations" from the unique Music Mosaic label based in Australia, is a solid (maybe even exemplary) introduction to the genre of world fusion music as it stands today. Unlike another world fusion compilation on the label, though (Didgeridoo Trance Dance), the emphasis here is not on dance floor electronica synths and rhythms, but on a true fusion of disparate but authentic world beat music from many countries with only subtle modern electronics and a dash of beats. It's not surprising that one of the licensed songs is from James Asher, who (in my humble opinion) practically owns this genre (and has since the release of his acclaimed CD, Feet in the Soil). Music Mosaic shows their good taste in including his song "Spice Souk" on this collection.

Rather than drum and bass/techno rhythms and spacy synths, you'll hear more ethnic chanting and singing, a lot more world percussion instruments, and an overall more mellow-vibe. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Didgeridoo Trance Dance is about dancing (literally), the sultry sensuous swaying rhythms of Tribal Groove are about a more, shall we say, "horizontal" form of dancing. Okay, I admit it, this music is sometimes downright sexy. There is almost always a lot of passion in the assorted vocals, a good-sized dose of libido in the beats, and just enough lush romanticism in the sparse synths/flutes/other melodic instruments to stoke the fires of amour in your life.

Some stand out tracks are "Arunda" by Keiya which has lower register synths flowing under thunderous hand drums, wood sticks, hand bells, and chants; Asher's previously-mentioned "Spice Souk," with spacy synths, lots of hand percussion in mid tempo, and exotic Middle Eastern textures; "Khatar," contributed by Solace, which is a belly-dancing number if I ever heard one; and "En Afrique" (by the capitali$ts) which features one of my ultra-fave world instruments, the kalimba, along with cool storm sounds and delicate flute, before loping funky rhythms take over via drums and guitar. However, while some tracks may not win me over completely, I don't recall hitting "skip" once. Occasionally, there is an overabundance of "Deep Forest" type chanting samples, which I'm a little bored with, but the music itself throughout Tribal Groove is, well, it's groovalicious!

This album could well be the best introduction to the world fusion genre I've ever heard. I don't know how easy it would be to find albums from the other artists on this recording (other than James Asher), but even if all you come away with is the joy of discovering this pan-global melody and rhythm party, you still got your money's worth, in my opinion. Become a citizen of the world and get your mojo working at the same time. Tribal Groove is infectious, fun, and will definitely broaden those horizons of yours!

review by Bill Binkelman

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