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World Music CD Reviews North American


Published April 19, 2006

The Intercontinentals

Bill Frisell’s latest release features the guitarist, composer and bandleader’s new debut project, the Intercontinentals, an ensemble that formed in 2001. The amalgamation of American roots musics—along with Brazilian, Greek, Malian and other influences— provides Frisell and cohorts a canvas atop which multicultural color playfully commingle. The album maintains an overall acoustic ambiance; Frisell’s creative use of electric guitar timbres and loops is neither understated nor overtly salient. Some tracks, such as “Good Old People,” merely hint at worldly influences. Others, like “Baba Drame,” are more obvious, with its African-tinged grooves, guitar arpeggios and emotive pentatonic scales. Here Jenny Scheinman’s violin prances across frequent flyer miles, at times sounding Celtic, in others North Indian-influenced. “Procissao” is a great example of how Frisell and talented compatriots are able to jump genres easily. With its interspersed Portuguese/Arabic vocals, slinky American lap steel and bubbling rhythm tracks, this cut is a standout. Frisell joins an ever-growing roster of open-minded artists who hear the world’s music in toto. Just as importantly, he effectively embraces a divergence of styles and ethnic traditions, fusing them into a singular compositional voice.