"I think of my dad who time-travels mostly now."
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 01/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I usually try to buy Brozman-projects right when they're released but this time finances kept me away from this one until early December. In the course of spending about a month-and-a-half with this, I've found out I love it. Before I forget, I just want to say if possible, listen to this in the open air on a stereo or 5.1 system. There is something about this music/recording that needs to be out in the open. I don't mean outside, I mean as opposed to listening to this through headphones. The first few times I listened to it were at night on headphones and I thought it was nice. Then I listened to it on the main stereo and fell in love with it. The instrumental layers and the voices just don't come alive in headphones (at least not on my headphones) at all compared to the vibrancy and emotional impact this album has when pumping out into the room.
If you're truly only into Brozman's projects for his own playing, this may not be the album for you. This album is about these people (from Rabaul, East New Britain Papua New Guinea) and their music first and foremost. Bob plays along with them and adds to their overall sound, but he is not a core focus the way he is on an album with Debashish, Led, etc...
For me, this is one of the most emotional of all the Brozman-related albums I own. Although the album has the songs and music of 5 string-bands there are a couple similarities among most of them. 1) This is very vertical music. When I listen to this album in the open on the stereo I get this vertical picture in my mind from the way the layers are all stacked on top of each other... the bass-string runs, the upper level and the voices. This isn't an outwardly searching music focused on solos. The outer shape of many of these songs could almost seem stagnant if you weren't listening. I fear some people will miss out on what's happening here if they are the type of people who only listen to music while they're doing the dishes, working at the computer or whatever. The best aspects of the movement of this music take place internally. 2) Though almost all the songs have a jaunty, upbeat pace about them, when you delve below the happier surface, there definitely strikes me as being a common sadness here. It's beautiful and painful all at once.
I don't go back to edit reviews because I feel history is what it is, but if I did, I think I'd knock both Mahima and DigDig down a star in favor of this one. Mahima is still the premier album ever (so far) for hearing Debashish's playing in a non-Hindustani context but the overall feeling and emotional impact of this album is superior though none of the guys in these bands could ever approach Deb's level of instrumental ability. The 3 bands here that do it most for me... they have something that really speaks to me. These voices and melodies transcend all language barriers. I don't know why, but this cd makes me think of my dad. There's an inner sadness there that doesn't jump right out at you. He won't take care of himself, our time will come to say goodbye, yet somehow my favorite songs here capture my feelings in this situation perfectly.
I don't know that any of these bands have been recorded before but in case they have and you want to know, they are Alir Pukai Stringband, Eagle Voice Band, Gilnata Stringband, Drop Sun Band and Lions 2000 Stringband. Rabaul is closer to New Zealand than it is to the PNG mainland so if you also have the Bosavi: Rainforest Music From Papua New Guinea set (I reviewed it here some years ago) don't worry, there is no overlap in styles or bands. These bands (their music) are nothing like the guitar bands on that set. This album has made me go back to the Bosavi set and find a new joy in those bands but I still greatly prefer the styles and bands captured here.
I've only watched the dvd once so far but it gives lots of information and gives a nice feel for the people and their surroundings/culture. Oh one last thing, if you have another semi-recent Brozman disc, Blues Reflex, and you're not a big fan of the New Guinea Blues tune, don't let that keep you from this album! That track is styled after what turned out to be (at least for me), the least interesting (instrumentally) band on this album. Their vocals are unique but still not my favorite band here.
I love this album and I think it captures "simple beauty" better than any Brozman project thus far."