Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Africa

Various Artists

By Nils Jacobson

Fire Drums
Music Mosaic

This sampler from the Australian Music Mosaic label doesn’t really deliver what its title promises. The hour-long collection features 10 tracks of drum-intensive music from various (mostly obscure) artists, in styles ranging from Afro-Cuban to West African, Indian, and Middle Eastern, but most are hybridized to a disappointingly extreme degree. True, there’s an abundance of timbral diversity here, and plenty of different drums incorporated in the mix, but too many tracks are maimed by overproduction. The one place you really don’t want to see programming is on a drum compilation, but that’s exactly what happens half of the time here. The highlight, Chinta Reiss’ acoustic “Journey Of Fire,” features abundant tuned percussion in the form of the West African balafon and other instruments, interlocked in clever and continually evolving ways. But Steven Cragg’s “Carnival” (which should be filed under “Latin lounge”) is softened to mush by layers of ambient textures and “OS System,” which is apparently an attempt at an electronic trancecut, is noodly and New-Agey to excess. The lack of decent liner notes doesn’t help the album’s case, either.