The first thing you notice about M.I.A.'s Kala
release is just how percussive this music is. Many of these songs
sound like a female vocalist fronting a high school drum line.
No kidding! Although there are plenty of electronic percussive
elements, many of these beats also feel like the real thing. And
some of the time, this CD reminds me of Paul Simon's Rhythm
Of The Saints - only on speed.
The opening track, which trades unremitting percussion for -
believer it or not - honest to goodness melody, is titled "Jimmy".
With its faux strings and disco groove, it comes off like one
of those Vietnamese dance tunes you hear coming out of Southeast
Asian restaurants. But this tune is a conspicuous exception; most
of these twelve songs offer machine-like beats-per-minute floggings,
which nearly beat the listener into submission. M.I.A.'s unique
sound combines her Sri Lankan upbringing with influences derived
from her current London residence. She creates world music strongly
saturated in hip-hop culture. One also hears electro, dancehall,
and funk elements, too. The weakest cut is one called "Mango
Pickle Down River", which drags like a grade school chant
and features young kids rapping along.
New Buffalo's Sally Seltmann gave this music a
unique compliment. She played it while moving house, and praised
its rapid fire beats for making this laborious task go extremely
fast. Then again, the same thing could probably be said about
methamphetamines. But at least it doesn't come with the same empty
depression after all's said and done. And I'll bet the DEA prefers
hearing these tracks coming out of home stereos to smelling that
urine stench of cooked meth.
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