dZihan & Kamien :: Freaks & Icons
A few years ago, thinking of Vienna, Austria, brought to mind a tiny land of Mozart, Falco and coffee. Not anymore. The city is now synonymous with sexy, groovy and innovative downtempo electronica, courtesy of such luminaries as Kruder & Dorfmeister and Sofa Surfers. Its latest stars, dZihan & Kamien (gee-hahn and kammy-en) bring together the best of this cosmopolitan city, and beyond, on this 2000 release.
While K&D and the Surfers build most of their blunted rhythms around dub plates, this duo's sound is slightly more global and a little more outward-looking. And that's what we like; coz after all, we are EthnoTechno. Much in the same vein as Thievery Corporation's recent material, Freaks & Icons is chock full of Middle Eastern (mostly Turkish) influences and themes ("Streets of Istanbul" and "Slowhand Hussein"). Nowhere else does this work better than on "Just You & I." Already on many compilations in the 'chillout' genre, this is one of those tracks whose melody sticks in your head for days. But is it just me, or does this joint not sound suspiciously similar to Thievery's "Facing East" from Richest Man in Babylon (released much later, in 2002)? But who cares, I certainly don't and you won't either, especially at 0:30, when the grooviest slice of ethnic electronica that you've heard in a while, kicks in.
"Homebase" is another tune that is hard to resist, with its mellow tinkling piano solos and tabla loops. This was my first exposure to d&K via Café del Mar Volume Six and it sounds as captivatingly laidback as it did back then. The opening cut has almost a house music aesthetic to it, with electronic beats and percussive rhythms providing a backdrop to some interesting synth manipulations.
Recorded in San Remo, Istanbul, London and Vienna, Freaks & Icon is truly a record for the global dance music connoisseur. With so many styles and influences, d&K is one of those acts that is truly hard to pigeonhole. Is this Acid Jazz? Trip hop? Downbeat? Lounge? This is all of that and then some. Mmmm.