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Radio I-Ching: The Fire Keeps Burning

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Ever eat wild duck? It can be tough and sinewy but often has oddly fascinating flavors. Try it spit-roasted over resiny charcoal from a Djibouti street vendor and you get an idea of Radio I-Ching—wacky quacky. The odd intersections of 'world' music (here Pan-AfroAsian meets jazz and Americana pop) are strangely unsettling yet grounded in this little ugly beauty. Radio I-Ching—a Gotham-based trio hot- potting piri (Korean bamboo flute), plectra and percussion—blare out mostly puckish, raw, playful covers and bizarre originals; none settle into any discernible style but draw on blues scales and free electronic applications for color. Their consistent multi-solo group interplay lopes o'er dusty trails at sunset to a sandblasted canvas caravanserai, with wi-fied mojito bar.

These bad boys cover elder statesmen artists from Egypt (MA Wahab), Nubia (Hamza El Din), Manhattan (Monk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Sonny Simmons), Hawaii via Hollywood (Alfred Newman), Jamaica (Count Ossie) and Nashville (Jimmie Driftwood); none were likely written after 1960. Monk's "Bye-ya"—close as they veer toward straight swing and bop—defies observing changes. Sophisticated effects, such as slack-key quavery pitch on "Moon of Manakoora" (hey, Wayne Shorter covered this one) and clever overdubs (wiry electronica over whinnying horn on a layered vamp on a tune reminiscent of "El Condor Pasa") push their third world into new age. Sound is blatantly rough and tinny: "Volunteered Slavery" sounds cylinder- recorded in the Mississippi delta outback with banjo, street snare and squawky soprano. Others emulate dusty, scratchy LPs blasted over cheap speakers in the camel bazaar. Band's probably more fun live than on this tiresome tube Motorola. Turn the sound down on Nat Geo channel, crank RI-C and here's your armchair trek to Ulan Bator.

Track Listing: Fakarouni; Gala 2000; Two Horn Bingo; Let Freedom Reign; Moon Over Manakoora; Abba Zabba; Volunteered Slavery; Congo Call; Bye-ya; Good Evening Mr Damners; What Is the Color of the Soul of a Man; Scorched Desert.

Personnel: Andy Haas: curved soprano saxophone, fife, morsing, raita, electronics; Don Fiorino: guitar, mandolin, glissentar, banjo, lotar, lap steel; Dee Pop: drums, percussion.

Title: The Fire Keeps Burning | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Self Produced

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