David Starfire :: Bollyhood Bass
It's now 2010. Things are getting interesting. Enter David Starfire. From a musical, Creole family seasoned with his own instrument fluency (piano, bass, guitar), Starfire emerges from decades past with the follow up to his 2007's acclaimed EP, Bombay Beatz (Six Degrees), on Bollyhood Bass. Starfire pulls influences from his jazzy roots and love of world music and matches his eerie playa-thumping hip-hop, eclectic electronica, pop, classical Indian, dubstep and neo-bhangra beats with exacting precision.
Bollyhood Bass opens almost too delicately on "Sitarfire." It's teasing quietly for a quick moment, a reflective pause ("om" here as needed) before beats kick in and then suddenly you are transported — given a VIP ticket to the party of the decade. "Mystic Whomp" tempts you in further with enticing vocals and rhythms illuminating Starfire's potential. "Shimla" spins pure funk and groove with bhangra flare.
Perhaps the best three of the album's fifty-six minutes are spent on "Shakti," which conjures tasty visions of an Amon Tobin-Karsh Kale love-child. It's a bit dark, heavy on the tumbi, complicated and totally sublime. The vocals suggest a Bollywood fantasy dream sequence via a late night Burning Man Technicolor interpretation (turn on a black light for maximum experience at around the two minute mark).
Clearly, this record is no joke.
Right about now, you're hooked; you can't even see which way is out off the sweet and sweaty, gritty dance floor, and you don't care as the beats keep dripping onto you from somewhere ecstatic. All of a sudden you realize that Starfire is both dj'ing and dancing with you at the same exact moment, like some sort of intergalactic Hindu god magician. He has eight arms, snakes slithering around them and monkeys flying in and out of his hair and this does not surprise you.
Like fellow Six Degrees label mate, DJ Cheb I Sabbah, Starfire riffs the dhol drum without apology throughout Bollyhood Bass. It's hypnotic and magnetic, as it should be, and the night is still young. So you take a ride on a "Flying Carpet." Excellent choice. Here, Starfire lifts you up to the sky (to his home planet perhaps?) for a glimpse of the universal party-in-progress. You may have just been enlightened. Or, at least you begin to feel like you've never really quite danced before this moment. Smashing. You start to consider that perhaps dancing is to the body what India is to the world. With Saraswatiesque arms coiling curiously in every direction, the expressive culture appears infectious, a sensual purity wrapped in tanned mystery. Everything makes total sense now.
And then it happens.
Starfire drops in the absolutely necessary "Shout It Out," featuring Lynx and Jamie Janover, "The Beat" featuring iCatching, "Shenai Wobbler" (you love wobbling) and the super coconut-creamy "Baghdad." They're destined for dance floor romances of epic proportion (and probably a few "oops, I just spilled my drink cuz my booty just would not friggin' stop shaking. Gawd!"). So, let's take a closer look. "Shout It Out" bumps with a better-take-a-listen-to-this beat. Lynx's beat-boxing is new-school yumminess. The hook is too good to get the first time around, so don't be shy and go on and press that repeat button five or six more times. This is the song that should be blasting out your windows all summer long. "The Beat" is intended to keep you jumping up and down. Go on, it will feel really, really good. And then there's "Shenai Wobbler." Mmhhhmm, yes, I do believe I will, thank you very much. My, it has been a while since I've wobbled. "Baghdad" is the heaviest track on Bollyhood Bass. It has a thick and heady dubstep tone meshed with incredibly gorgeous strings courtesy of violinist Ysanne Spevak (you may know her work with Jane's Addiction, Billy Corgan, Elton John or Michael Stipe). All parties must come to an end and "Baghdad" takes you out to the farthest limits just one last time before returning you to Earth.
Starfire recognizes the trip he has taken his listeners on is of a most serious matter. One cannot be expected to re-enter reality without some sort of assimilation process. He does the responsible thing and offers it in a light and sweet come-down moody version of The Beatles "Hey Jude." (Perhaps it's no coincidence considering their love of India.) The vocalist sounds like Cat Power. The beats kick in offering an acknowledgement of the mystic journey you just experienced, and they settle quickly as you begin to feel like you're going to integrate this life-changing experience. Everything will be ok. You are going to make it (better, better, better, better).
Check out David Starfire's TOP TEN on Beatport