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World Music CD Reviews North American

Hamsa Lila

By Jill Ettinger

Live In Santa Cruz
In The Pocket

The colorful urban-meets-traditional-via-Burning-Man collective better known as Hamsa Lila delivers a wholesome two-disc set here, recorded live in Santa Cruz in 2005. For years, this six-piece troupe has been laying claim to a rich, fertile turf that resides in a hypno-yogic soundscape somewhere between their psych-rock jam-band cousins (think String Cheese Incident and Sound Tribe Sector 9) and the likes of global electronica ambassadors Asian Dub Foundation and Thievery Corporation. The band shows a distinct maturation on Live In Santa Cruz, dropping an all-world hybrid that pulses with undeniable synergy and even a little recklessness, while singers M.J. Greenmountain and Nikila Badua twist their lyrics into the music in seemingly coded messages. Melding infectious rhythms, low-end harmony (often with bassist Vir McCoy on Moroccan sintir) and pure future funk, each member of Hamsa Lila clearly feels the spirit, taking the band and everyone in the vicinity on a journey to points unknown.