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Mo Magic :: Sirens
[asian dawn]   review from shree  


Most of us were first exposed to the Mo Magic sound on Outcaste's much lauded compilation New Breed UK, a vehicle for the musical explorations of three British Asian acts - Mo Magic, Niraj Chag, (pre-Nasha) Ges-E and his then collaborator Usman. In those days, i.e. the late 90s, the Outcaste label was consistently putting out releases that attempted to show the flip side of the Anokha centered Asian Underground hype. These artists, along with label mainstay Nitin Sawhney, mirrored Anokha's ethos of mashing up dance music technology with classical Indian instrumentation and vocals but focused the tracks more on organic, live elements.

Then came the so-called death of the Asian Underground and the four men who were to be the leaders of the next generation of Asian breakbeat busied themselves with other projects. Niraj joined Dum Dum Project, Ges-E formed the Nasha collective, and Mo released a few 12"s on his Asian Dawn label, after lending the excellent "Mixed Visions" single to a couple of Asian Breakbeat compilations (Swaraj and The Rough Guide).

We pick up proceedings in 2006 and Mo's first full length Sirens - a culmination of almost half a decade of recordings and re-recordings - is finally here to assuage our (or, at least, my) concerns for the lack of DJ-friendly breaks. From the flute-fuelled frenzy of the title track to the drone-y "On The Edge" and the Sino drum and bass of "China Doll Remix," this is the best and only true breakbeat record made by one of the original Asian Underground producers. The incredible "Folk Song" has crossover hit written all over it with the help of strings, militant breaks programming and vocals by ADF regulars Spex MC and Sonia Mehta. Mehta shows up again on the sublime "River of Dreams" alongside the rapid-fire tabla beats of the now legendary Aref Durvesh. It's only halfway through the album that we get the only disappointing tracks, "Break Em" and "Warrior" which sound dated compared to the rest of the gems here. Consider this a two-track breather as all is soon forgiven when the rough and tumble beats of the next four breaks laden tracks come pounding through the speakers. "Knowledge" and "Nuclear" in particular are reminiscent of the style made famous by DJs such as Aphrodite and Grooverider, only more militant and Indo-centric. The slower BPM of the final two tracks are very welcome as by this time Mo Magic has sufficiently proven that he does Asian breakbeat as well as the rest of them.

This here is the past, present and future of London's Eastern Drum and Breaks (apologies to Nasha) scene.



ethnotechno rating: 4.5 out of 5
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  1. SIRENS (pick)
  2. ON THE EDGE
  3. CHINA DOLL REMIX (pick)
  4. FOLK SONG (pick)
  5. RIVER OF DREAMS
  6. BREAK EM
  7. WARRIOR
  8. PAYBACK
  9. ROCK THE REMIX (pick)
  10. KNOWLEDGE
  11. NUCLEAR
  12. UNTITLED BEGINNINGS
  13. STUPID GAMES INSTRUMENTAL