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The trappings of exotic field recordings are all over this mysterious production: pictures of Balinese shadow puppets, references to the suspicious-sounding Kadamba Forest and one "Dr. Syed Kamran Ali," and a folk-friendly label known for its association with Sun City Girls musicians (who expanded awareness of the old, weird world with their Sublime Frequencies releases).

Don't be fooled by the half-hearted imposture, though: this is to ethnographic recordings what Captain Beefheart's early albums were to the old blues — at once loving homage and blatant forgery. Some of the selections are decently executed pastiche (Arab-esque: "Bare Cairo," "Headless Mule"; Africanish: "Memoria Makhnavischina"), but there are less-derivative instrumentals as well ("Bully Kulta").

The sounds range from an interesting cross of gamelan and pre-Velvets John Cale ("Lila Dederba") to straight-up art-space-squat improv noise (opener "Mal de Ojo" and closer "Redeyes, Noose and Goad"). If there is a tribal ritual that goes with this music, it probably involves chanting Arthur-magazine record reviews out loud and passing around Alice B. Toklas brownies while watching Ira Cohen's Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Folk Music, John Cale, Alice B. Toklas,  More more >
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