26 February 2007

Monday's mp3: Zaman 8 Emerges

Six Degrees Records has a track record of ambitious thinking and modern sensibilities. Among the artists they've shone a spotlight on are some enduring favorites: Bobi Cespedes, Issa Bagayogo, Cheb i Sabbah, Ojos de Brujo, and Trio Mocotó. Yes, there's a pattern to these artists: they all combine traditional roots with elements of electronic or dance music.

Not only does Zaman 8 do that, but their newest tunes are part of a new digital-only strategy by Six Degrees. Yup, no physical CD to clutter up your place. Just those wee ones and zeros on your whateverPod, arranged in tasty order to bring you this sparse but satisfying musical blend. As the band puts it,

What separates Suryaghati from other forgettable discs in the too-cluttered bin of “worldtronica” is a passion to create originality and permanence from the building block-influences of distinct roots music styles: Afro-Persian, Afrobeat, underground hip-hop breakbeats, drum n’ bass, Afro-Brazilian percussion, Gnawa, South-Asian, Afro-Cuban, Andalucian. The clear and potent result is never secondary or subservient to a hastily applied electronic beat. Like Sun Ra’s saxophones blasting the cosmic wisdom of ancient Egypt into the ears of contemporary Western consciousness, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all things, Suryaghati brings the past into the future and the future into the past.

"Much of what exists in our genre seems very momentary," says Sanaz Ebriani, the duo's Iranian-born singer. She and guitarist/programmer Dan Newman looked for a Persian word that reflected their music, a modern fusion with deep traditional roots. "Zaman means time, duration, era," Ebriani says, "and the number 8 turned to its side is the infinity sign, so put time and infinity together and you get timelessness."

Whether it will stand the test of time I do not know. But I like the subtle rhythms and bass that underlie the floating sax and flute lines. Think Mercan Dede in a jazz club.

[mp3] Zaman 8 Hafez Modir: "Sani"
from Suryaghati EP 1 (available only as a download)
Zaman 8 website

You can hear more such stuff on Six Degrees' Emerging Artists Sampler Vol. 1, available from Calabash:

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