Addictive TV – Orchestra of Samples

Album Review | K7 | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5

Between 2010 and 2015 Graham Daniels and Mark Vidler visited over 25 Countries.  From Brazil and Mexico to Senegal, China and back, filming and recording local musicians.  This album an extension of their on-going live shows as Addictive TV, documents and celebrates the process of layering together musicians and music to make connections, matching, splicing sampling and marrying.  The album is a labour of love in every sense of the word and a listen that is richly rewarding on repeated listens.  It works when you listen to every note and marvel at the artifice of it all and it works when you don’t, and you just enjoy the perfect moments created.  The percussion on first track “Hangman” is a cut up of an improvisation by Madrid based musician Daniel Salorio, while collaged over the beats are the percussive flute of Christophe Rosenberg and the beautiful French acapella act Ommm.  One track in and I already have three new musicians whose catalogues I want to dig into.  Like on closer “Herbal Haze” the overall effect is hypnotic with a dub reggae vibe.  Through the album distance and the passage of time separate the separate performances that are layered together.  Years separate Florin Iordan’s mandolin sounding Romanian cobza on “Unity Through Music” and Gatha’s cello loops recorded years later in sunny Bordeaux.  The spat out rhythms and hissing lines of Joe Publik and Moroccan rapper Si Sismo blend perfectly.  The train spotter listener can poor over the notes identifying individual performances and players, but what is remarkable is the way that elements so separated by time and space blend so perfectly to make a sonic masala.  “Eastern Baschet” is named for the ethereal and haunting sound of the Cristal Baschet an instrument of glass rods played with wet fingers.  You can hear it two minutes in on the track, dripping with suspense.  The instrument developed in the 1950’s by the brothers Baschet is played here by Francesca Russo.  The artifice of perfection on these layered performances isn’t complete and the ambience of the Bahcesehir University rooftop in Istanbul where Korkutalp Bilgin’s resonant tanbur plucking was recorded bleeds through, showing us some of the ghosts in the machine.  Revealed too is the improvised nature of the music as Bilgin, Daniels and Vidler bounce ideas about, their voices discussing what to play, becoming part of the textures.  “Kora Borealis”, as the title suggests, celebrates the music of Senegal and the west coast of Africa.  Kounta Dieye’s beautiful Kora was recorded in the Senegalese small village of Ndem.  Senegal rap star Matador was recorded in the capital Dakar, appearing alongside French acapella band Ommm.  “Beachcoma” is a perfect blend of performances.  Laetitia Sadier, lead singer with 90s band Stereolab provides a beautiful lounge-esque vocal that complements the Brazillian guitarist Mazinho Quevedo as perfectly as any of Getz Gilberto and Jobim’s 60s Samba records.  The wonderfully warm breathy trumpet like cornet of Alistair Strachan and the 25 piece French children’s choir, recorded continents apart, just take it to another level.  The lyric is like Gong’s Daevid Allen at his smiling goofy best, but the track is just sublime.  “Rapscallion” was created for an Orchestra of Samples performance at the Berwick Media Arts Festival in 2014.  The band recorded local Scottish and Northumbrian musicians.  Featured here is Shona Mooney BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2006.  Running like Shooglenifty and The Afro Celt Sound System, across genres, Shona plays with French rap duo Milk Coffee and Sugar (themselves a melding of voices from Rwanda and Cameroon) and the glorious young trumpet player Aleksandar Djordjevic.  However fascinating the individual ingredients are, what holds your attention is the way that together they just work so well.  Get online and you can lose yourself forever on an immersive and meticulous website that allows you to burrow into each track, reading up on each performer and recording session. Like the best albums do, it leaves you with a list of musicians and performers to investigate and some of the best new music you’ve never heard before.  “Sundown (That’s A Fact)” a meeting of Alejandro de Valera’s guitar, Mathieu Serot’s ethereal flute and the spiritual and soulful vocals of American Marcellus Nealy, sounds like they have recorded a trio rather essentially created one.  Tracks like this and “Beachcoma” make you hope this is the beginning, like Baka Beyond of a long association and exploration by Addictive TV.  The American collages a classical or west coast cool jazz piano riff, some Americana or Nick Cave-ish vocals by the wonderful Theo Hakola and the result is glorious and hypnotic with percussion textures that span the globe.  “Sitar Hero” features and celebrates the sitar playing of master musician Baluji Shrivastav OBE, building his spell binding performance from improvisations recorded at his London home.  Reading like an honours list rather than session credits Baluji plays alongside virtuoso tabla player Kuljit Bhamra MBE and the, by comparison, edgy French singer Aurelie ‘Lily’ Jung.  Paradoxically “Herbal Haze” the album closer, was the first track worked on, suggesting a cosmic cycle, as they end at the beginning.  The track, Addictive TV reckons, also includes the most unconventional samples with Brazil’s answer to Stomp, Parubate, hitting car exaust pipes, Israeli beat box style vocalist Nir Yaniv and Lorenzo Mos from Italy and Mexican Humberto Alvarez who repurpose and rebuild objects to fashion their instruments.  The texturing is fascinating, but as always blends into a seamless glimmering percussive whole behind Nir’s souring wordless vocal and all the killer bass and reggae keyboard bubbles the track title would suggest.  What to call the music on this album, as we do like to classify.  It’s been bottled and shaken to mix, until the bubbles form, but what do you write on the label?  Addictive TV talk about international musicians and the commonality of our interconnected human experience, as explored through music.  But one person’s tidy genre label is an irritant to others.  It’s only a matter of time before flaring tempers over the sub divisions of music causes a bloody civil war between factions armed with shards of sharpened vinyl.  Shout Records are better than CDs into a crowded room of music fans and see what happens.  Louis Armstrong Jazz innovator, singer and legend, when asked about genres of music is famously credited with saying.  “All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song”.  World Music, the easy term to reach for, is a well-meaning but uncomfortably patronising term.  Uncomfortable, because until Sterns release an album of field recordings from the indigenous people on Mars or the un-named planets orbiting Alderbaran, then all music is World Music, as it is composed played and appreciated on our world.  Terms that divide music culturally or geographically, look for difference where the only difference is attitudinal. But as a beautifully layered collage of what feels like the music of ‘all of the world’, this album fits the term ‘World Music’ without any implied condescension.  As a massive sonic collage, that manages to simultaneously celebrate differences and commonality, then if anything deserves, for the size of what it attempts to encompass, the repurposed term World Music, then Orchestra of Samples does.  Listen to this album and rejoice in what connects us and celebrate the joy of the subtle differences.  You can chose to lose yourself in the detail and there is a lot of it to get lost in, or you can listen to the gloriously connected music, made from cultural and geographical counterpoints and marvel at how seamless it is all is. ​