Dusted Reviews

V/A - Ibara: River Crossing

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: V/A

Album: Ibara: River Crossing

Label: Yoruba

Review date: Sep. 29, 2005

Ibara: River Crossing, the new compilation from Yoruba Records (the Soul Jazz imprint run by New York afro-house superstar Osunlade,) offers 15 tracks covering an awful lot of ground, including Nuyorican funk, garage, international funk, and nu soul/jazz. On the surface, the unifying theme may seem to be the fact that nearly all the artists on this compilation are co-conspirators with Osunlade, if not Yoruba Records artists themselves. However, if the Ifa-inspired cover art (featuring Eleggua at the crossroads, opening the path for a shirtless traveler while Ochun reigns over the river below) doesn't register with all listeners, none will deny the distinctly afro-diasporic vibe pervasive across the entire volume. When Cuban piano technique or Afro-caribbean percussion doesn't find its way into a track, there are overt references to Osunlade's religious devotion.

God, funk, and soul manifest themselves in different ways from song to song, beginning with the delightfully geeky entry from Anne Wirz, “Resolution,” spoken-sung in French and evocative of what elevator rides on the moon must sound like. South African artist Kb checks in with “El Musica,” which, despite the gender confusion of the title, pulls the listener in with considerable latin funkiness, no doubt due to the montuno-style keyboard vamping and hidden burst of sax. Lyrically, the vocals on “El Musica” (consisting almost entirely of “eee yay” and “when we're makin' love to el musica”) and other tracks don't really add much altitude to the affair, particularly on Nadirah Shakoor's “Simple Pleasures,” which smacks of the British duo Inner City from 15 years ago… just without the Brit sense of urgency and sophistication.

Despite the occasional throwaway vocal track, though, River Crossing delivers a few unique collisions of style and culture that maintain the 'centric vibe and push it a little further. Djinji Brown's gritty “Grits” pairs him with his father, spirit jazz sax player Marion Brown, a flaked-up club excursion where son throws down a quick, crusty beat, and Pops channels a distinctly leftfield post-Trane wind. Tempo Perdido's “Theme From Juan” cranks down and compresses any number of rhythms into a twisted, futuristic bolero, grinding away underneath a veil of Aquarian chorus girls and throbbing analog synth bass. Hard stuff, and completely original, Tempo Perdido leaves the planet and disintegrates in midair. Osunlade's only solo contribution to this collection, “Acrylic Venezuela,” picks up amidst the dust of “Theme From Juan,” but leaps even further ahead to a land where post-Mann flute cuts through a desolate mix of reggaeton toughness and Fender Rhodes funk. Back on Earth, “Raimunda,” from Puerto Rican singer Quetzal Guerrero, thunders with the determination of samba and trips up the listener with percussion breaks that quote rock and hip hop. Perhaps the most impressive feat on River Crossing is P Nice's “Fluorine's Dance,” a jagged trail mix of shattered, crooked beats, and bittersweet instrumental guitar rock that owes as much to Louisville post-rock as it does to any of the global influences so present on the rest of the album.

Even with the saccharine dressing-room funk on half of River Crossing’s cuts, Osunlade and crew deliver soul and innovation on every corner of this label sampler.

By Andy Freivogel

Read More

View all articles by Andy Freivogel

Find out more about Yoruba

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.