By: Sanjay Gopal
Expect a shamanic atmosphere, rich in percussive layering, and delay for days. Downtempo drones, synonymous with this style of music, hold this Kaminanda remix compilation together. Out now on Desert Trax, the Spiral Waves remixes run the gamut of psychedelic bass stars across the industry today.
The opening track, “Trail of Nomads,” originally produced by label heads Desert Dwellers blends sacred sounds and chanting; invocative, divine incantaion, exotic vocal chops, twangy sounds, and a Middle Eastern vibe. The drums are big and quite driving, bold, with the last two minutes moving into a Shpongle-like section with darbukas, classical guitar, and drum breaks, didgeridoo samples or Tuvan throat singing, which are staple sounds for the album's ambiance.
The second track is a remix of one of my favorites: “Dance the Spiral Never Ending” by Kalya Scintilla, but sounds fairly different so as to not recognize it as a remix. It opens with the sound of rain before going into a mysterious “walk the alleys of Agrabah and discover the magic of this Kingdom.” This album is high on an exotic, mysterious, alluring quotient, and the tribal beats, and subtle sonic arrangements support that vibe well as all the elements are well balanced, be it bass rolls, leads, percussive sounds, melodic ones, or the vocal samples which do not take you away from the bigger picture of the overall journey of the album.
Third up is the remix of Akara’s “Projection.” Opening with light arpeggiated melodic pads and the beckoning of an exotic maiden from the depths of your inner desire. The beats are quite impressive, as I mentioned before, highly supportive of the mood of the track/album and not overpowering at all even though they are one of the most upfront parts of every track. Nice interlude with a reed pipe like instrument, keeps things unpredictable, and in this track the lady (Gaia..mother nature?) speaks to us a bit more in a mysterious tongue (what could she be saying?) before receding for some bars into the the colourful and provocative electro fusiony canvas, eventually returning towards the end of the track with the original message.
It seems like we are led into the “Dragon’s Mist” by track four, Desert Dwellers, an echoing voice calls you out into a lush, tropical ecosystem. Every track on this has a female voice almost madatory, maybe associating with compassionate mother earth? I can only think of such a logic. Why can't God be predominantly female? They after all are the bearers of children entrusted with carrying forward our race and species. We are lucky it's the dragon’s mist and not the fire breath. “Bass” is used wisely with deliberation, over a transcendental beat and to an enhanced effect in this album. Two thirds into the track a small waterfall/stream is found and once we drink from it we carry on through the end of the dragon's mist with a rejuvenated and quenched feeling.
We are introduced into a new realm by Bird of Prey, apparently this is the “First Step,” we are more grounded! As the beat is more definitve and urging us to go beyond…something, our own comfort zone perhaps. Urged on by pecussive taps, there is so much melody in every sound that leads you on and on. Quote “Taking your first step in a larger….something!”
Back in the Desert, “Seeing Things”, erratic beats, mirage, elusive sounds and texutres, things of unfathomable beauty may be found even in a sparse terrain such as a desert.
Govinda's “Plant the Seed” has violins sing the song of elegy right from the start, “planting seeds of love under your tongue, let love blossom, for she will come in the springtime.” What? “Dont’ let me go, be my friend until the end, I will come looking” “This is our song for everyone” “Can’t be wrong” Okay...I'll be your friend strange lady of the seed. Glitchy transmissions spit out grainy, vocalized croaks over a recurring arpeggiator synth and hi-hat pattern supporting. Just in case you forgot that violin, it's back for its goodbye, don't forget me.
Temple Step Project (hmmm... insert large time gap here while I Google historic temples: Hindu, Greek, Egyptian, Aztec, Buddhist, Mesopotamian, Zoroastrian; they indeed carry some vital information on the development of human civilization and consciousness. Wow, I blow my own mind sometimes!) “I Alone” starts gently clattering, progressively builds on a tragic violin lead into plucky Kanun vibe suggestion. Wait, there is a message! Spacey vocals, but the intention is clear: If you can’t see light… subtle flute (Raja Ram reminiscent), just 2-3 seconds. This track has notable balloon scratching bass parts, too, for fun.
Living Light's “Temple Tantrum” arrives with bells, a childish sample (only a child would throw a tantrum in a temple), door, and chant foley, glassy leads colliding with sweeps, acapella cuts, delays, swells, thankfully a mild and not very disturbing tantrum—demanding redemption?
Kaya Project's “Firedance” ritual evokes sympathetic strums, finger picking, alt-rock guitar riffing, glassy sounds, hasty and tense violin leads. The focus isnt mostly on one particular instrument or sound but the vibe on the whole. Halfway through the track, what's a firedance without some chanting and crackling of flames and twigs? Chant, twitch, and glitch out.
Other highlights come from Luke Mandala and Symbolic & Zen Mechanics. As it's a compilation, perhaps the cohesion between tracks leaves a little to be desired; though the tempo of the album is quite slow it still has a healthy momentum and doesn't (let you) linger or dwell on.
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