steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Villa Claustrophobia" CD

Alien8 Recordings

Genres: ethnic fusion, folk, soundscapes

Alien8 Recordings
P.O. Box 666, Station R
Montreal, Quebec
H2S 3L1

Sep 3 - 8 2002

Wow, this is a tricky one to put a tag on. I suppose "ethnic fusion" would work but it really doesn't do the recording any true justice. This problem may stem from the fact that Villa is actually comprised of a whole number of styles and influences; some parts ("Tallis", "Voice Against Memory") are abstract soundscapes, while others ("Stereognosis", "Gently Johnny") are spacey folk tunes. However, the middle eastern influences run through the entire album, with instruments like Theremins, harmoniums, and flugelhorns being used to weave intricate, beautiful sound tapestries. While some parts tend towards more ambient material, it is obvious that the band, made up of members of Dirty Three, Palace, and Cracker, among others, has no problem dealing with pop-oriented melodies. As such, the few folky tunes on the album are completely brilliant, bringing to mind comparisons to recent Chris Cacavas and the darker side of Chris Isaak.

While the instrumental and lyrical contributions are both extremely inspired on Villa, the album also represents an excellent outlet for band member Nirmak Bajekal's extraordinary voice; in songs like "In Every Villa..." and "...Claustrophobia...," she can be heard accompanying the intrumentation with celestial, non-lyrical vocals. These pieces, while primarily abstract, are not completely devoid of melody, and sound almost like how Godspeed You Black Emperor! could have turned out if they had grown up listening to a steady diet of Ravi Shenkar.

If you've gotten the just of what to expect from Villa Claustrophobia, and you're somewhat intrigued by it, then go out and hunt it down. If you're still busy muttering to yourself, "oh, it's world music," then, well, maybe you should muster up some worldliness so you can appreciate the beauty contained on this wonderful disc. Tanakh, what's in store for us next?


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 52 min 54 sec; 11 tracks; distributed by Forced Exposure; released 2002]