Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In review--Beats & Vibes

Lucas Van Merwijk’s
Drums Unlimited
Tam Tam Productions

As with all my Whole Music projects, I sometimes break musical components apart to explore the roles rhythm, tempo, timbre, color, melody, and harmony play.  A musician once told me that I had no sense of rhythm.  At first, I felt angry about this critical observation later, I started attending drum events in Seattle, and found that I could follow along just fine.  My heartbeat taught me all I needed to know about rhythm.  Lucas van Merwijk’s Drums Unlimited know all about those poly rhythmic beats, but this recording does not represent an improvised drum circle, but tightly woven pieces, even drum vignettes with vocals in some cases, and worldview of drum cultures.

While I pass on the DJ mix type tunes on this recording, the acoustic drum pieces definitely excite me.  Listen to the effervescent African Dream with Gianna Tam scatting in an African dialect over the top of djembe, tambor, conga and other instruments.  While light programming gives this song its shape, I barely notice the programming and ditto for tabla beats by Ranjan Biswas on New Faith.  However, if I had to pick a favorite, I would pick Cocinandos with its Afro-Latin rhythms and faint echoe of Tito Puentes’ Oye Como Va and the delicious polyrhythmic Bougarabou.  The Venezuelan Culo ‘e Puya with its rumba-like chants and Con tres Tambores Bata with Tam singing Yoruba-Brazilian chants deserve a mention.

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