Arsenal

Oyebo Soul [Kristal]

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Arsenal is the sort of name one would expect from a metal, punk, or hardcore band, but Oyebo Soul is none of those things; Arsenal is actually one of the many club-minded acts that has been fusing electronica and world music in the '90s and 2000s. Of course, the term "world/electronica fusion" can refer to a variety of things. It could be something harsh, amelodic, or abrasive; techno and other styles of in-your-face rave music have been combined with everything from Middle Eastern and Indian music to the Irish and Scottish forms of Celtic music. But Oyebo Soul doesn't get into the harsher types of electronica; like many other CDs that Kriztal Entertainment has put out in the 2000s, Oyebo Soul favors the kinder, gentler side of electronica. This 2004 release is consistently melodic, and parts of it are downright lush. But one thing Oyebo Soul is not is predictable. During the course of the album, Hendrik Willemyns and John Roan -- the Belgian producers who comprise Arsenal -- combine club beats with the music of places ranging from Brazil ("A Volta," "Dinah") to Africa ("Angola," "Amelaka Motinga"). And not everything on Oyebo Soul is aimed at the dancefloor; "Longee," for example, is one of Arsenal's more rock-influenced offerings, and "Far I Have Come" has a strong African pop flavor -- it's a tune that fans of Miriam Makeba or Ladysmith Black Mambazo shouldn't have a problem appreciating. In some cases, albums as far-reaching as Oyebo Soul can sound confused or unfocused -- they can give the impression that the artist went into the studio without a solid game plan. But that isn't a problem for Arsenal, whose Oyebo Soul manages to be focused and unpredictable at the same time.

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