|MH-216 Andre Afram Asmar - Racetothebottom
Andre Afram Asmar has crafted a masterwork of organic dub-influenced downtempo with over twenty guest artists and vocalists including Scientist, Elias, and Israel, from countries in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Over a year in the making, racetothebottom is an ambitious project that uses live instruments as the base for each track, and then accentuates them with samples, electronics, and computer manipulation. Rooted in non-violence, the search for common ground, and support for the world's oppressed, racetothebottom is meant to be a soundtrack to life. Asmar combines seemingly disparate styles in a single track - Middle Eastern vocals over Jamaican dub, Brazilian rhythms over Western electronics - to accentuate the harmony created, and to focus on beauty found in cultures so often viewed in a negative light.
|Fans of eclectic, globe-spanning sonics will find much to enjoy in the thirteen soothing cuts - Urb / At the forefront of both hybrid and political music - YRB / Sonically radical - XLR8R / It's not globe-hopping; it's a meltdown - New York Times / An act worthy of a Nobel Prize - Signal to Noise
|Post 9/11 Western xenophobia could make acceptance of this album unlikely without first taking the masses of asses back to first grade like we did with MLK in the 1960's. If a track like "scientism" didn't alienate you in the 90s it certainly can today as you visualize United Airlines Flight 175 meeting you at your front window while this spins. Social and political hypotheses aside, racetothebottom is called a "soundtrack to life." So if you put down your grievances (which Asmar has naught to do with anyway) away, and your palette becomes unbiased again, you'll hear the levels of sound he spent more than a year assembling from scores of different musicians, emcees, tapes, breakbeats, and sources I'm not yet privy to. Play this for a friend and measure their confused glance first at you, then the speakers themselves. Cavernous dub reggae and Dj Premier hip-hop production mixes with Brazilian rhythms and Middle Eastern vocals peacefully, casually. It's natural enough to make you wonder why it's not been attempted before. The voices do stand out significantly, and could be where some listener security ends - at first. After you've moved away from the past, racetothebottom will reward you with new shades of melody you initially mistook for dissonance. Are these "versions" of songs from another dimension, or just another viewpoint? - Americore