Sunday, March 1, 2009

Travellers - The Sound of Travellers (Plustapes CS)

So now that I'm writing for Foxy Digitalis as well, I'll post some of the reviews I do for them over here too... this and the one below are both from this week's run over at that fine establishment:

Last year saw Chicago’s Plustapes emerge as a major dispenser of obscure world music via the equally obscure cassette medium. That this combination managed to catapult the label to the fore of all the right circles is testament to both the strength of their material and their careful habitation of a distinct niche. This trend continues with their release of this tape by Singapore’s Travellers, whose soundtrack worthy grooves nestle themselves right in between that comfy oceanic getaway between Los Angeles and Bangkok.

The whole vibe is fairly ascertainable from the cover alone. Just six guys in tuxedos who are so beautifully removed from the western tunes that they’ve been spinning that they can’t draw a line between Ennio Morricone, Junior Walker and the Ventures. The recipe combines a healthy dose of Duane Eddy guitar twang, frolicking drum lines, Meters-style bass work, watered down synth runs and just about every number that’s ever had you discreetly tapping your foot in the local sushi joint, and the result is Travellers leaving you gladly abandoned on the Isla of your choice, complete with margaritas in constant, toxic flow.

Some of these numbers are so colorful and cartoonish that they read more like the soundtrack to some ultra crude video game than a mammoth convergence of popular forms from every corner of the globe. But Travellers actually represent, in their own way, all of the most fascinating aspects of culture clashes. Their influences are so apparent, and to some degree so shoddily misinterpreted, that the product is a completely new sound that simultaneously signals the birth of some alternate universe musical phenomenon and the death of everything that Travellers have ever heard. Travellers are destroyers, but they only destroy in order to create.

The consequence of all this destruction is, ironically, a music suitable for practically any occasion, so far as it’s a good one. The small budget, big sound approach of the production would fit in as nicely at your favorite local restaurant as it would at your next birthday party. Whatever you may ask of them, Travellers are surely ready with one hand on their pistol and the other on their surfboard. I can’t tell whether this tape is so bad it’s good or just so good it’s good, but either way the outcome is clear. Travellers are a world all their own.

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