Essay AYCD22


Full Price (69 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

Our Man From Odessa – aka Crimean-born producer German Popov – makes music that feels unlike pretty much anyone else on the world music scene: swirling, dubby instrumental electronic soundscapes that draw as much from Studio One, surf guitar and vintage synths as they do from turbo Romanian pop and – on this album – Tajik folk, a result of an inspirational trip to Tajikistan courtesy of the Aga Khan Music Initiative. The result is a bit of a mixed bag: the collision of Central Asian singers and instrumentalists and cranked up FX units works very well on tracks like ‘Pagansonic’ with its blissed-out vocal sample, but ultimately OMFO’s cleverly sculpted sounds don’t manage to sustain interest over an entire album,. When he ventures into downtempo hip-hop on ‘Windhorse’, the rolling plucked hook works a treat, but elsewhere – for example the laborious ‘Caravanserai’ – the drum programming gets decidedly patchy, resulting in music that relies too heavily on its concept: you can’t help thinking what effect a few hard-hitting guests with strong songs would have on this heady brew. Overall it’s all a bit achingly trendy – but if you’re not looking for a sonic background to accompany a bar filled with beautiful people or a high-end yoga session, you’ll be ultimately left wanting a lot more focus.

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