Lou Ciccotelli, Richard Olatunde Baker, and a cast of many attempt to channel the hallowed Afro-beat and jazz improv ghosts that inspired them to pick up all sorts of percussive devices and hash out Side Effects, a seemingly endless album with a bottomless pit of hypnotic rhythms and clusters abetted by studio wizardry. Like the duo's 1999 debut, Last Night, the crux of Side Effects was birthed through extensive improv sessions that were then edited down to 13 tracks averaging five minutes in length. The seamless continuity is all the more remarkable when the details in each selection begin to reveal themselves. While Nana Tsiboe (shekere, brekete), Folasade Babarinde (djun-djun, shekere, bells), Nii Tagoe (sogo, bells), Imade Iyamu (voice), and Jason Yarde (Tibetan bells, whistles) provided most of the traditional instrumentation, contributions from Ciccotelli, Baker, Guy Fixsen (moog, editing), and Gary Jeff (electronics) added ambient dimensions to make the record less straightforward in an attempt to bridge modern electronic experimentation with their inspirations (i.e., from London to Lagos). That said, if your favorite Can moments are "Smoke" and the first few minutes of "Chain Reaction," this should be right up your alley. A bit more grounded than Last Night, Side Effects nonetheless takes many approaches. There's the unassuming inertia of "Little Bang Theory," the harrowing drone of bells, chimes, and whistles of "Lightfell," the sinister snaking of "Escape From Evil," the vigorous hip-shaking rush of "Sandblasted," and then there's the handful of numbers that are so dizzying with their fevered polyrhythms that it sounds like the soundtrack to a stampede of ultraviolent proportions. This is a record to get lost in. Don't try to find its good attributes; let them find you.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman