Baraka Orchestra

Five Worlds

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As the house band for the Brooklyn, NY-based label, musician's collective, and international family known as Baraka Foundation (the brainchild of Professor Shehab, a partner in the original foundation of Wordsound), the Baraka Orchestra do nothing less than musically communicate the crew's mission statement on a full-length compact disc. Blurring the lines between Middle Eastern raga swirl, hip-hop, drum'n'bass, dub, and spoken word, Five Worlds establishes early and thoroughly its intent for cerebral domination in a mostly instrumental context. The core group is comprised of Professor Shehab on the G3 laptop, samples, and turntables; Dub Gabriel on bass, turntables, and kaos; John Roberts on percussion; and John Turner on trumpet -- with ten other musicians appearing within various regions of the set. A feeling of true collaboration is tangible, with Baraka's roster all contributing to one area or another, expertly pulling all the different sounds and voices into a globally cohesive mix. The record begins with sitar and tabla sounds over all-consuming basslines, cascading among organic drumbeats of the pocket-heavy variety. The influence of Brooklyn brother Bill Laswell, no stranger to this cast of creatures, is omnipresent, though most noteworthy in the bass' role, exulting dominance in the forward movement from one song to the next. This is big-room music -- headphones being the secondary choice for its listening medium -- with panned bleeps and sounds ranging from the minute click to the ultimate electronic audiosphere. The record rarely exceeds any tone more extreme than a cool swagger, which reaches its absolute clarity on "Formation," featuring well-orchestrated trumpet arrangements and a beautifully locking groove. DJ Serge cuts up "Take Your Time" and compliments guest intelligence from Umar Bin Hassan in the medium of spoken word (Hassan's live performance of "This Is Madness" from the Red Hot + and Cool compilation Stolen Moments finds its way into "Konflect" in a frenzied rendition). In essence, Five Worlds is a soundtrack piece to the greater body of work being explored by this group of musicians, and is a great introduction to their rising prominence.

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