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Mish Mash Indie Music Reviews February 2004

Issue #62 May 2004

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The Woggles: Soul Vs. Rock-N-Roll


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Jam Camp
The Porter Project
Aeolian May
Hasmik Harutyunyan Armenian Lullabies

Jam Camp
Black Hills Jam

Flying Spot Records
7 song CD

With a name like Jam Camp, you might conjure up musical images of The Grateful Dead or Widespread Panic. Instead, you should be thinking jazz fusion and prog rock a la Dixie Dregs---yep, that's the "jam" we're referring to here. With two guitars, a sax, bass, and drums, Jam Camp explores a genre-defying mix of music which is sometimes jazzy and sometimes full-frontal assualt rock and roll.

They open up the disc with the country-fried acid rock of the title track, which prominently features the dueling guitars of David Broyles and Michael Smith battling it out from their respective corners of stereo left and right. And in case you're still wondering about the "jam" moniker, the song clocks in at just under 15 and a half minutes. The sax of Steven Munger takes center stage during the whacked out and rhythmically defiant prog intro of Wormhole. This in turn gives way to the funky urban grooves of Westside Highway, the quirky and offbeat Trees, and the southern rock flavored Swamp Gas & Moonshine.

Fans of the instrumental and experimental need look no further. Pack your bags, it's time to go to Jam Camp. Have a great summer.

MISH MASH Mandate: The Great Jamtacular

Jam Camp Website

Various Artists
The Porter Project

Kriztal Entertainment
16 song CD

Think you've heard enough covers of Cole Porter tunes over the years? Well, you haven't heard anything yet. Here we have more than a dozen Porter compositions, performed by a mix of underground musicians, and reinterpreted for the 21st century. What does that mean? It means trance-inducing trip-hop beats, samples and sound effects, a mix of world-music styles, and vocals with a dreamy yet cynical delivery. This may not sound so appealing at first, but you soon find yourself lost in this soundscape of music which has been torn from its traditional roots and re-packaged in a futuristic global shell.

This is probably best represented by the decontructed barroom jazz of I Love Paris, a song which perfectly blends the romantic & idealistic musical past with the inhuman electronic musical present. It sounds like it could have come from the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, using a mottled and confused musical melange to show off its colorful aural wares. It's beautiful in spite of itself, with the original intent of Porter peeking through the curtains at just the right time.

MISH MASH Mandate: Rave New World

Kriztal Website

Aeolian May
Port Of Embarkation

11 song CD

Aeolian May has a name that fits perfectly. Their music is atmospheric and ancient, borrowing musical feelings from ages gone by and bringing them to the here and now. Singer Danan Healy reflects this every time she opens her mouth, her drifting vocals shimmering with timeless beauty. The voice blends with the gentle foundation of guitars and keyboards, blurring the lines of past and present, music and sound.

The implied message here is one of a musical journey, and they manage it with grace. The songs shift and move ahead, from the magestic departure of Alexandria, to the wandering exotic edge of Virtual Woman, to the driving New Age pop of the title track, then ending with the quiet arrival of Shipwrecked Eyes.

MISH MASH Mandate: Trippin' Out

Aolian May Website

Hasmik Harutyunyan With The Shoghaken Ensemble
Armenian Lullabies

Traditional Crossroads
13 song CD

Haunting and beautiful at the same time, this collection of Armenian Lullabies as performed by Hasmik Harutyunyan gives the listener a view across the centuries, a veritable window into the past of Eastern European folk songs. The Armenian lullaby is one of the oldest musical traditions in the area, passed down through the years by generations of mothers singing their children to sleep. The lullabies varied from region to region, and village to village. The tracks presented here give an overview of the types of songs that could be found throughout Armenia in its rich and storied past. Also included with the CD is a booklet with extensive liner notes, lyrics, and photos.

Most of the lullabies are performed with little or no instrumentation, with the focus being the sole voice of Harutyunyan. The end result is a feeling of solitude, a lonesome voice singing in quiet desperation. It's hard to imagine hearing these as something to help children fall asleep, simply because most of them are so anxious and somewhat depressing. While most of the translated lyrics come across as "normal" lullabies, a few of the songs reflect this feeling of absolute despair: "The caravan passed / With a burden of tears / And in the black desert / Fell to its knees / Exhausted."

MISH MASH Mandate: Sleep Deprivation

Traditional Crossroads Website

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