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From the Inside Out

"Curiouser & Curiouser": Global Beat April 2007

By Published: April 9, 2007

Adding saxophone and flute by Iranian-American instrumentalist Hafez Modir makes the melodies on Suryaghati sound somehow more personally communicative, Modir's wailing sax passages somehow more like jazz - the tense past future sound of Pharoah and 'Trane contemplating deep outer-space except with no type of accompaniment that Sanders or Coltrane could ever hear or see.

"Ketu opens with a strong flute melody line (on Sufi ney flute) that stretches and doubles back upon itself as the remaining music, including the quaint yet exotic sound of African thumb piano, swims underneath in liquid watercolor. Modir's soprano in "Sukra and the cavernous dub-style "Sani moans and dances in sweet pained tones that would suggest Grover Washington Jr. or other soulful R&B saxophonists if presented in such a setting.

Various Artists
Backspin: A Six Degrees Ten Year Anniversary Project
Six Degrees
2007

Upon this year's tenth anniversary celebration of Six Degrees Records, label co-founder and president Bob Duskis explains, "We like poking holes in the notion of what 'world music' is, or is not. And to commemorate the anniversary, we wanted to do something surprising and different.

The label's tenth anniversary celebratory release, Backspin presents Six Degrees artists performing their favored rock and pop songs. It does justice to the label's history and future by simultaneously looking backwards and forwards: Back to the original sources, music by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and others, from which Karsh Kale, Bombay Dub Orchestra, MIDIval PunditZ and other Six Degrees artists drew their first musical inspirations; but casting these originals in new instrumentation, arrangements, cultures, even languages, all advancing the label's one-world musical vision and embodying the label's slogan, "Everything is closer than you think.

Whether it occurs naturally or through post-production magic, Kale's voice floats with eerie similarity to Sting's vocal in "Spirits in the Material World, though Kale manipulates thick, chattering electronics (such as ascending keyboard bass) and percussion to draw with thick bold dark lines the skeletal melody ghostly sketched in the Police original. Los Mocosos rough and tumble up another Police cover, "The Bed's Too Big Without You, in cumbia rhythm and Spanish lyrics.

The expansive, globe-trotting electronics of Bombay Dub Orchestra quite nicely suits soundtrack and cinema music, demonstrated by their stylish update of the theme to the '70s British spy-pic Get Carter.

Other tracks deliver bulletins from more exotic locations. dZihan & Kamien update Herbie Hancock's already futuristic jazz fusion landmark "Rockit with trip-hop beats and lead flute that blows the melody and improvisations thereupon with funk and freedom. Rava Avis downshifts Jimi Hendrix' "If 6 Was 9 but without sacrificing any of its psychedelic energy; its new rhythm flows thick and deep and melts like dark chocolate into minimalist Portishead pop that scrapes and claws on electronic keyboards in lieu of Hendrix' barbed guitar hooks.

Led Zeppelin's "Four Sticks by MIDIval PunditZ (Guarav Raina and Tapan Raj) from New Dehli brings the Backspin concept full circle, arranged with swirling strings in place of Jimmy Page's familiar, craggy electric blues guitar moans and with lead vocalist Pankaj Awasthi approximating Robert Plant's lemon-squeezing howl. "It's easy to see that Led Zeppelin themselves were inspired by the music of the Middle East and India. We also read that the song was originally written in India while the band was traveling, note the PunditZ in Backspin's notes. "So maybe it's time someone from India gave homage to the greatest band of all time.



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