This CD has a long history behind it and embraces many of Chris Brown's interests. The 27 tracks comprise binaural field recordings made in Cuba, Bali, Turkey, Hawaii, and the Philippines (binaural means a set of stereo microphones located close to the engineer's ears was used, creating an exact image of what was being heard, including the panning resulting from the wearer's head movements). Brown focuses on traditional polyrhythmical pieces. His fascination for this music led him to create a computerized instrument made of four interconnected computers generating polyrhythmical structures over which real musicians improvise. Devised as an installation, this performance, titled Talking Drum, was reiterated many times throughout America during the mid- to late '90s, always with different performers. Excerpts from some of them are included on the CD, recorded once again with a binaural set by someone walking through the installation. Talking Drum, the album, therefore combines rhythm with movement in a collage of live performances and field recordings, technology and tradition. The two blend together marvelously. The listener is treated to an aural journey in the purest sense this expression can have -- take the advice to listen with headphones seriously. Brown's computer work is not given enough visibility, as his programmed rhythms can sometime be mistaken for real percussion, but this is hardly a flaw. Put it on the count of an artist willingly stepping out of the frame for the benefit of the music. Talking Drum may not be as engaging as one could expect, but it rewards its listeners.
AllMusic Review by François Couture