|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
|The well-regarded avant hip-hop label Mush takes a sharp left turn with this album from producer Andre Afram Asmar and his troupe of over twenty guests, including dub producers, hip-hop vocalists, and ethnic musicians and performers from around the world. On the surface, there are some striking similarities to the ethno-dub projects of Bill Laswell, but a couple of close listens to racetothebottom reveal an album that seems less rushed and more heartfelt than the usual results of Laswell's album-of-the-month production style.
Asmar exhibits an impeccable touch at the mixing desk and a careful ear for sound, expertly layering his electronic bed tracks with everything from joyful Latin America rhythms and dense dub soundscapes to the ancient sounds of the oud, djembe, and dumbek. A disparate mixture of vocals are also woven throughout the record, including the Middle Eastern sounds of Elias, a smattering of hip-hop courtesy of Transducer, and the moving and plaintive voice of Shurouq as recorded at the Dheisha refugee camp in Bethlehem. It may seem like a trite platitude, but at a time when our world is so fractured, the East meets West musical harmony of Asmar's work helps kindle a bit of hope that things just might work out ok in the end. - Grooves