genetic drugs :: contagious
[azra]   review from derek  

Four records and numerous singles into the mix, Berlin's Genetic druGs drops what may be his most groove-oriented album to date. While he has always been intent on the unification of global cultures through sound-blasting the airwaves with the planet's tunes on his Multi-Kulti radio show - the depths and range of craftsmanship displayed on Contagious is truly commendable.

The album cover says it all- the word "contagious" in eight languages, including the dead-but-revived slang of Sanskrit. He includes this script due to the participation of the Mantra Singers from Mangalore's Tiger Temple, who provide an excellent vocal track on the drum'n'bassy "Lakshmi Mantra." druGs hangs toward India a bit, featuring Oikyotaan and Katrick Das Baul on "Din Duniyaar Maalik," which adds a hyper beat to the watery drums of the Baul tradition. The singing on that song, like most of the record, is excellent.

The India experience is complete on the Jew's harp-led "The Radhakrishna Experience," which features a high-pitched singer named Rani Chitrakar. The melody on this devotional track is perhaps the most meditative of the bunch; it is a tasteful, inspired song. The twangy resonance of the mouth harp is a great companion for the percussive rhythm and Chitrakar's higher-toned voice; the resonating guitar effects halfway through give it a hallucinogenic vibe.

For the most part Contagious is an upbeat affair, as on "Olololale Africa Club," with its kinetic drumbeat, bouncing percussion, and Ghana's Adesa joined by Spain's Latrama. Culture-bending is part and parcel of druG's catalog-here he pairs India with Berlin, Berlin with Brazil, Brazil with Ghana. He assigns "Kerala Beach" to a Russian musician. And he offers two versions of "Hannena," which features Egypt's Nubian pop star, Mohamed Mounir-one the original, and another remixed by Transglobal Underground. The space and dexterity of the original leaves it to be the desired choice. On either, Mounir's silky vocals triumph.

At times in his past, druGs's beats have been a bit thin, and this exists on Contagious, though this is his most thorough outing to date. The repetition of the drum'n'bass format is hard to maintain for a full album, so his switching up here and there adds to the overall quality. Most importantly, he finds a consistent flow that ties these twelve songs together incredibly well. Few have what it takes to borrow from so many cultures and make it sound like one unified effort. On that end, mission accomplished.

ethnotechno rating: 4 out of 5
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  1. Las Frutas
  2. Hennena (pick)
  3. Lakshmi Mantra
  4. Olololale Africa Club (pick)
  5. Pharma Do Bem
  6. Din Duniyaar Maalik (pick)
  7. Kinky Pulse
  8. The Radhakrishna Experience
  9. Kasaragod
  10. Kerala Beach
  11. Sonho Bordado (pick)
  12. Hennena -transglobal underground remix