Various Artists - Mood Africa: African Meltdown Vol. 1 - Padare

2006-03-30 12:05

While Traditional and Electronic mood music may seem like worlds apart, Robert Trunz and co of M.E.L.T.2000 have managed a peculiar feat, mixing an album of myriad tones and textures, from an artist repertoire that effectively spans the breadth of Africa.

Those with an ear for what is abusively labelled "World Music" may find this in their section at the record shop, but MeltDown Volume One actually deserves a broader audience, perhaps drawing largely from the jazz and Afro-Cuban fetishists, if not the "lounge" crowd as a whole.

If there's a structural connection in these pieces, it's the percussive backbone. Though the tone is soft and smooth, the music mostly keeps you buoyed up with lively, if hypnotic rhythms; it's an ethereal soundscape of fade-ins and fade-outs, many tracks running less than two minutes, others longer, but without losing pace.

Some highlights for those with more traditional tastes include: DZM Project - "Inkosi Yamampondo"; Amampondo - "Intshintsh'ikhona"; and Busi Mhlogo - "Uganga Nge Ngane". But the tracklist is so variable that it's it's hard to define the album's genre, other than by saying it's "African" (whatever that means.)

You'll sample 23 tracks , with the production favouring the "mood" over the need to include complete pieces. Overall, it makes great incidental music, but also manages to be interesting enough to actively listen to - a rare quality in the "mood" genre.

- Anton Marshall

If you enjoyed this, check out Volume II in the same series, as well as other Meltdown and DJ - Artist collaboration CDs, which we'll be reviewing in the coming weeks. Plus, here's a full list of artists who participated on Meltdown I

An explanatory splash reveals that this album comprises Traditional and Electronic mood mixes. But that's a inadequate explanation for what's going on here...

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