A strong set of all-original material that has its cake and eats it too. With unobtrusive electric guitar and bass blending in with more traditional instruments like flute and djembe, it's both more accessible to modern audiences than traditional African instrumentation, and not as pop- and dance-oriented as much contemporary African music. The focus remains on Sangare's gliding singing (thickened by a couple of female backup singers) and the music's looping (but not laid-back) grooves.
Chris LeDoux was born in Mississippi, but his music and lyrics both have plenty of Texas heart -- maybe brought on by the fact that by the time he hit his teens he was already living in Texas, and soon began the normal cowboy path of taking part in rodeos and spending his summers doing ranch work. The recording Chris LeDoux and the Saddle Boogie Band has been called a great cowboy-style album, like most of LeDoux's work. Country fans will find both ballads and upbeat numbers on this offering. Songs such as "Cowboys Like a Little Rock and Roll," "Night Rider's Lament," and "Hooked on an 8 Second Ride" showcase his skill at tapping into the celebrated world of the everyday cowboy that he knows so well and shares even better. All you need to do is tug off your cowboy boots, tip back your hat, get comfortable, and have a nice long listen.
One of many rappers who have found easier access to major labels in the '90s, Dina D. unfortunately didn't prove to be as resourceful, creative, or attuned to the hip-hop vibe of the moment. This album was quickly surpassed by a wealth of other releases from both males and females and is now a footnote on the hip-hop scene.
It's very easy to dismiss Rhythmscape: The New Sound of Melody and Rhythm as new age meandering. After all there's plenty of rain sticks and gongs, and you'll find plenty of blathering in the sleeve notes. And don't forget the faux jazz that makes up "Zinc." But if you can take the time to get beyond all the clichés, there's actually some tasty musicianship on this album. Bikram Ghosh is an extremely talented tabla player, albeit one who's working very much outside the box on this release, accommodating Indian ideas, voices, and instruments (along with Western percussion and instruments) to Western mores. All too often that's a bad thing, and brings out the worst from both cultures in the name of fusion.
But on pieces like "Gangotri" there's some depth to the thought and the playing. Granted, it's not going to be to everyone's taste. Those who favor Indian classical music will likely see it as heresy, and the new age crowd might find it somewhat busy. So while it falls betwixt and between, there's still plenty of good to be found -- you just have to search for it.