Strawberry mellotron, kangaroo drum, clous nine cuckoo harp? The instrument list in the cd liner alone clues you into the fact that Loop Guru is well... unique. What makes Loop Guru so different is that they put no boundaries on themselves. While other groups play programmed Enigma-ish beats on sitar loops, Loop Guru takes a serious step forward and away from musical convention. They have an amazing way of sounding completely different from the rest of the crowd, and doing it quite comfortably.
It's not house, it's not drum-and-bass, and it's not trip-hop. It's nothing you could classify really, and I think that's exactly what they were going for. Loop Guru's Amrita is ethereal, percussion-driven, sample-based, and truly amazing. Based on a foundation of sweeping orchestral pads, warped instruments, upbeat drums, and piercing chants, this stuff is truly ethno-techno.
"Soulus" is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It starts out with a transmogrified (my spell check just went into shock) orchestral pad sort of thing. Then the congo drum loop comes in followed by the effect-heavy Pygmy-like chant. By the time the Gregorian chants are seamlessly mixed in you've already ordered the other 4 Loop Guru albums off of Amazon.
I think one of the biggest criticisms of the new techno-fied world music is that it's too estranged from the musical culture and history of its original source. It's simply too easy these days to sample a tabla beat, or a sitar and throw it on top of a track. Jay-Z, Missy, Madonna and countless others do it all the time, and the infusion of the Eastern influence makes their music sound new and fresh (even though its been around for thousands of years). There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but I feel music like that is lacking in cultural depth.
What makes Loop Guru different is that they somehow understand the importance of the musical history, pay homage to it, and then stray from it as far as possible. So who cares if they play lobster strings, Armenian paraglanos, or earthquake drums? They know their shit, and its sounds damn good. This is a must-have album, for any fan of the genre.