|Media Reviews: CD's|
|Written by Michael R. Mollura|
Yoga on the Dance Floor
Ekayani and Tom Glide Space’s Yoga on the Dance Floor transports Yoga to the club world through ancient Sanskrit and Bengali mantras set to the mystical and funky goddess of house music. The album begins with dreamy tones, upon which Ekayani relates the story of Krishna. As Krishna opens his mouth, his mother sees the entire world and all of creation. Upon seeing the past, present and future, Krishan’s mother doesn’t know if she is dreaming or seeing an extraordinary vision: the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This allusion to the world as both fantastic and illusory leads into “Money to Burn”, a song whose loud, fast, tribal rhythms parallel the greed and unconscious spending that brought us into this economic mess. “Paruma Karuna”’s ancient Bengali bhajan lyrics and rave-y, deep house beats follow, leading into the dreamier dub-reggae flavored “Jaya”. “Pophina” breaks the progressive push, with a hazy, 4 A.M. backbeat and musings on inner strength. By the time “Dehino Smin” rolls out, we are entranced by Ekayani’s soft voice and Space’s top-notch production.
The catchiest and most sonically complex of the songs, “Smin” emphasizes haunting, ancient chants over dub rhythms reminiscent of mid-90s trip-hop giants Massive Attack. The wicked, dirty-disco house vibe of “Eye Chant” follows. The sweet mantras of “Gaura Pahu,” set against a timbre of percussion and space-agey electronica, complete our journey.
This album is a lovely musical and mystical creation. Layers of deep, prog, minimal and tech house are seasoned with dub-reggae and phat basslines guaranteed to help you shake your groove.
Yoga on the Dance Floor’s live LA debut is at Bhakti Yoga Shala, Sunday, January 24, 1:45 - 3:45 P.M. They’ll also be at Kristin Olson’s Urban Yoga Center in Palm Springs, Friday, January 29, 8:00 - 10:00 P.M. www.EkayaniandtheTomGlideSpace.com
–– Reviewed by Aria Mayland, a Yoga teacher and writer shaking her own groove all across Los Angeles. yogawitharia.com
This Hawaiian-based percussion ensemble performs dynamic tunes that are thought-provoking, innovative and enterprising. On this album, the tunes are inspired from around the world so the feel is not “Hawaiian,” but filled to the brim with effervescent rhythms that are African, Cuban, Haitian and South American influenced. Headed by Jesse Seymour, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, the collective features a sack full of percussionists who are all capable of making any skin come alive. Some Los Angeles based tribe members might recognize Craig Kohland from Shaman’s Dream playing along with this energetic group. The rhythms are performed on every drum you can think of including djembes, congas, bongos, cajons, dununs and every other bell and whistle you can imagine.
Some of the tunes are led by the spirited singing of Peter De Jesus who can take you deep into the land of chants that honor the saints and the dreams and the rivers that flow through the soul with elevating wisdom. It’s amazing how much “melody” you can get out of a drum and this group is so all about drumming that you might not even realize there aren’t any string or brass or woodwind instruments accompanying the festive collage of global offerings here. I really have to hand it to producers Michael Pluznik, Jesse Seymour and Craig Kohland for coming up with an album that respects, honors and skillfully recreates such a wide variety of styles without it coming off as chaotic.
This release is perfect for Yoga classes that use rhythmic accompaniment to the postures to get the heat up. All in all, Barabajaba
–– Reviewed by Michael R. Mollura
Alex Theory is a sound healer who uses an alchemy of electronic beats, grooves and ambience to attune his listeners to a higher consciousness. In Saturn Returns, he blends abundant percussive tracks that include tamboura samples and tablas mixed into an Eastern-influenced tapestry with tasty vocal calls on top of a bed of sounds. The prime objective for Theory here is transformation. The music is about change and moving the soul forward using a multilayered musical soundscape.
As a big fan of “dub” I felt most powerfully drawn to the “Warrior Dub” and “Strangeland” tracks. These compositions take good advantage of tasty reggae influenced rhythms that move through some trippy logic and effects. Theory is practiced at what he does. He is a master at finding sounds that naturally work with one another in the laboratory.
The feel of the songs are hypnotic and highly rhythmic, as is the case with the appropriately titled “Afterburn,” which has depth and is ideal for lounging late at night. Fans of this track are those who like the type of repetition that starts to feel hypnotic and trance-y. Theory generates plenty of energy using familiar beat patterns that shift just enough to keep the musical fare expansive and heart-opening. The production gets highlighted with Santana-like guitar leads that bring the musicianship level of play up a bit.
In addition to making music, Theory produces concerts and events and teaches, writes about and practices sound healing. There is plenty of soul on all nine tracks on this offering, and I’d love to see Theory continue to produce and even expand on this work to really take it out of the box.
Fan of the Buddha Bar series will enjoy this album. Or if you aren’t familiar with but are looking for a new album to chill on and give your home a electronically produced healing attitude, Saturn Returns will transform any room into a dharmic lounge scene. whiteswanrecords.com; alextheory.com
–– Reviewed by Michael R. Mollura
Produced superbly by Grammy winner and Windham Hill Records founder William Ackerman, all the compositions off this charming instrumental album were written by newcomer Lawrence Blatt on the acoustic guitar. Not unlike his producer’s work, Blatt delivers fourteen eclectic, modern, colorful and smooth tracks. His guitar playing has a beckoning quality with enchanting melodic phrases that strum up and down the strings to engage the listener into an intimate experience of the instrument.
Each piece is performed skillfully with bravado by Blatt and the help of some accompanying musicians who help keep the flow close to earth while Ackerman puts his wise touches on the knobs in the control room. The compositions are ambience-driven while delicately treated to give the songs an attractive heart-opening appeal. What I like about an acoustic instrumental album like this is that it just seems so organic and straightforward. There is nothing to think about other than the sweetness of the sound of the instrument and the modest approach to create serenity with just the most basic instincts of a real musician to help us all feel good.
If you are like me and can never get enough of a soft, warm and humble acoustic guitar sound, then you’ll enjoy this album by a new artist who seems to have one of the masters of the art form (Ackerman) giving him his support and nod. Though the intention of this album isn’t to provide a soundtrack for yoga classes specifically, I can totally see it working in almost any environment. lawrenceblatt.com
–– Reviewed by Michael R. Mollura