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Various Artists - Reinterpretations: Inspired by the Works of Kitaro Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 August 2004

Various Artists

Reinterpretations: Inspired By The Works Of Kitaro
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Kanpai Records
release year: 2004
performance: 6
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image This unique album is a tribute to the New Age synthesizer music of Kitaro. For the most part, these new versions of his older compositions are much more danceable than Kitaro’s original recordings ever were. But then, once upon a time, electronic music was headphone music and not primarily the domain of dance music practitioners. Had Kitaro been born a few decades later, this may be what he might have sounded like.

With the second track in, “Michi” by Turbotito, one is struck almost immediately by a techno-sounding bass beat, along with sparse high percussion. This track also has an almost dub feel in a few of its more echoing places, and sports slight organ work in some sections. “Theme from Silk Road” performed by Inside The Sun is given heavy bottom-end percussion and an eerie high-end synth melody. You might even say it has sort of a marching beat. On “Beat Break” by Peas, however, rhythm experimentation gets in the way of an otherwise enjoyable melody. It begins with a sitar sound and an Eastern feel. But it soon devolves into a stuttering melody, which sounds like a record skipping. Geez, how annoying! The track also has some repeated female vocal phrases, perhaps in Japanese. It ends once again with that sitar-like instrument. Elsewhere, Timmy The Terror’s take on Shizuku also applies these same unappealing stop-and-start production sounds, but it’s somewhat less annoying in this instance.

After “Low Pass Dub,” which marks a second appearance by Peas, this release moves from dance floor workouts to works of a somewhat more contemplative nature. Peas’ return track has a semi-reggae beat. It also adds echoing vocals and clicking percussion. In fact, it sounds more African than Jamaican, so don’t let the “dub” in its title fool you. Of the last three tracks here, “Mercury” by Inside The Sun is the collection’s quietest and most ambient work. It has what sounds like a Zamfir (remember that easy listening guy from TV ads?) pan flute melody. A rumbling drum part eventually sets in, but it’s also quite subdued. Next is “Fairy of Water” by Occidental, which is slow and moody. The album closes with Stephen Hauptfeur’s “Cocoro.” This one has an almost Gregorian chantlike beginning, followed by a prominent keyboard plucking rhythm/melody over a lumbering beat.

It’s fascinating to trace back the way today’s electronic dance music has been influenced by so many diverse predecessors. Inspirations include such things as weird Moog experiments, Stevie Wonder’s ‘70s soul classics and – heaven forbid -- even disco. Chances are that few average pop fans would be able to point to both experimental electronic works and disco CDs in their home collections, but the artists represented here are probably not your “average” music fans, anyhow. Instead, Kitaro is likely an iconic figure for many of them. Reinterpretations takes a look at electronic music’s past, before taking a step forward in the continuing evolution of electronic music.

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