Friday, August 11, 2006

Eccodek - More Africa In Us

Eccodek is the brainchild of Toronto-based producer and musician Andrew McPherson. While his new cd bears a note to retailers advising them to file under “electronica/dub/world music”, it’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the actual content. Of the three categories, More Africa In Us is closest to the broad umbrella of world music, mostly due to vocal samples of African singers that give it a tinge of the exotic. It follows the cut-and-paste ethos of dub, although that description generally suggests a connection to bass-heavy reggae music that is not evident here. The electronica label is completely misleading as all of the tracks are based on organic instruments with only sparse application of electronic sound processing effects.

The album takes its name from an old Brian Eno interview in Wired magazine where he lamented about the soullessness of the computers he used for making music, saying that there was not enough Africa in them. Eccodek’s intent was to make a fast, loose recording without much thought attached to the outcome, just letting the music take control and hopefully coaxing some soul out of the recording machinery in the process. Sounds good in theory, but the end result is a generally uninteresting voyage through plodding instrumental loops that repeat over and over again with no progression. Fast forward through almost any track and you’ll be unable to tell any difference from beginning, middle or end, another hallmark of dub but not a recipe for listening pleasure. The African vocals fare no better as they’re not full performances, just samples of vocal snippets/phrases that are repeated over and over ad nauseam. The generic nature of the music coupled with its world music leanings makes it suitable for background soundtrack use in environments such as yoga studios, but taken on its own strength it quickly becomes a tedious exercise.

While the cd is making its US debut this August, it was recorded three years ago in Canada. Since then, Eccodek has recorded another full cd that reveals McPherson moving in a more interesting direction with greater reliance on performance than loops in both instrumentals and vocals. Eccodek has a full live touring ensemble that will be appearing at the Santa Monica Pier on August 24th in support of the US release of More Africa In Us, and will hopefully share some of the new material as well.


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