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Brainscapes , /10
Chakradancer , /10
Alain Eskinasi: Many Worlds One Tribe , /10
Brainscapes 2001 Many Worlds One Tribe , /10

Brainscapes (CyberOctave, 1996) e` il nuovo progetto del percussionista e tastierista olandese Alain Eskinasi, gia` attivo nei Soto Koto e nei Third Force. Prendendo come pretesto un'ennesima teoria sulle proprieta` terapeutiche del suono, Eskinasi imbastisce una world-music da discoteca per sintetizzatore di onde cerebrali e improvvisazioni di didgeridu (Jim Wafedr). L'effetto e` trascinante in Black To Uluru, ma altrove il disco propende per il pop-jazz altisonante di Metal Age o si riallaccia alle pulsazioni del Jarre dei bei tempi in River Journey. The Edge Of The Forest e` forse il brano piu` atmosferico, chiuso nei suoi effetti di giungla. Ogni composizione fa leva su cadenze ritualistiche che rimandano a stadi primitivi dell'esperienza umana e contrastano con il caleidoscopio elettronico di fondo.

A proprio nome Alain Eskinasi ha registrato Many Worlds One Tribe (Higher Octave, 1996), un album di jazz-rock soffice e romantico, molto piu` convenzionale (Shangri-La, Serengeti Girl, Broken Silence). I ritmi scalpitanti della sua world-music (Tree Of Life, Lemurian Trance) sono sommersi da stucchevoli temi melodici dei fiati o delle tastiere. Le cartoline esotiche di 7 Gates e River Spirit mancano di nerbo.

Su Chakradancer (CyberOctave, 1997) Alain Eskinasi punta verso una musica molto piu` ambientale che etnica. Laddove il primo disco tentava una fusione fra techno, tribalismo, fusion jazz e new age, questo (dedicato ai chakra) propende per la trance assoluta, per la stasi armonica, per la metamorfosi ineffabile. Quella di Eskinasi e` un'elettronica suadente, puntellata da una piccola galassia di percussioni (Derk Mulder alle bolle di cristallo) e talvolta corredata da campionamenti esotici.
I soffici lenzuoli elettronici che volteggiano pigramente in Earth Link infine assumono le sembianze di una danza orientale. Un processo analogo trasforma i gorghi onirici di Anahata. Dentro il ritmo ipnotico di Vishuddha duettano una cantante indiana e una balena, ma il gioco di campionamenti e` talmente sfumato e attenuato che la superficie sembra immobile. Ancor piu` statica, se possibile, la girandola di droni di Sound Of Light, che pure si riempie poco a poco, con elegante parsimonia, di rintocchi purissimi di campane, di pulsazioni occulte di basso, di poliritmi africani, di rapidi accordi d'arpa, di cori vellutati. Il disco si anima soltanto nelle sonorita` da palude equatoriale di A Voice Inside, alla maniera di Jon Hassell, e nella processione indiana di Give-A-Way, propulsa da una stentorea cadenza di tablas e da languide frasi di flauto.
E` un sound fin troppo lezioso e neutro, fin troppo attento a non causare emozioni, fin troppo privo di senso, fin troppo vuoto. Talvolta lascia la sensazione che sia musica per robot, zombie, esseri senza sangue e senza cuore.
Tutto e` soffice e lento, soffice fino alla banalita`, lento fino alla noia. La musica di Eskinasi, abbandonata in questi snervanti "ralenti`", perde molto del suo fascino. Un esempio canonico di come la musica new age piu` che rilassare possa talvolta far perdere la pazienza.

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Of Brainscapes 2001 Alian Eskinasi writes:

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, visionary film director Stanley Kubrick charted new cinematic terrain as he took viewers on a psychedelic trip into the 21st century. With Brainscapes 2001,visionary Dutch musician Alain Eskinasi similarly employs new musical sounds and forms to take listeners on a sonic journey into the new millennium. If Kubrick's astronauts had happened upon a nightclub in the year 2001, this is the kind of music they might have sampled. This is the third Brainscapes recording to emanate from the Amsterdam studio of this prolific composer, arranger, keyboardist, guitarist and percussionist. The first two dealt with,respectively, music's effects on the brain and the emotions.Call them sound collages where ambient, trance-dance and meditation music meet in seductive and mysterious ways. His latest project distills elements from the first two records, but adds an uptempo dance aesthetic to the mix. The music is still imbued with a mesmerizing, otherworldly quality, but is now layered with an infectious groove that moves the feet as it uplifts the spirit. Says Eskinasi, "After doing two mellow albums and working so much with African and Smooth Jazz projects (including the legendary group 3rd Force), it was time to apply some more groove to my own work. The third Brainscapes album is quite different than the first two. It1s not based on a healing music theory (as was Chakradancer), but is designed to provide dance music with a melody, and with more depth than the electronic trance that has pretty much taken over the European dance scene." >From the throbbing opening bars of the first track, "Sweet Thing," Brainscapes 2001 lives up its creator's billing as intelligent dance music. Eskinasi lays down an aggressive percussive vibe overlaid with a sinuous, haunting melody that's limned by a bewitching combination of keyboards, wordless vocals and flute. This infectious groove plucks the listener out of his easy chair and places him firmly in a first-class seat on Eskinasi1s pulsating musical express. All the tunes reflect this unique combination of rhythmic density and melodic invention, ranging from the sweet and mellow "Rainbow Serpent" to the adrenaline-paced, cyberpunk-raver"The Time is Now." Underscoring the entire project are the electronic effects that Eskinasi delights in creating. But the warm and soulful manner in which they are used belies the typical image of the electronic artist plinking away in some ivory techno tower. "For digital soundscaping I use a software package called metasynth that enables me to create sounds unheard before on this planet," Eskinasi explains. "Some of the things you hear on this album sound like synthesizers, but are actually acoustic sounds I processed, while some of the sounds you think are acoustic are actually placed with my solosynths. This is how I do my brass sections, flutes and didgeridoos." Much of the album's warmth and a good deal of its world music ambience is derived from actual acoustic instruments. For example, guest musician Kailash contributes the soulful Native American flute playing heard on "Sweet Thing," while the track "Fujara" features an ancient European oversized flute with three sound holes that produces a tone distinctive for its plaintive, almost human quality. Then there are the numerous sound samples that Eskinasi skillfully stirs into the mix. "I'm a self-confessed soundhound, and I'll hear musical possibilities in almost every sound our planet has to offer," he says. On Brainscapes 2001, those samples include flutes; various percussion instruments; guitars and sitars; Asian, Gypsy and Gregorian chants; and, serendipitously, an infant's first attempts at speech. "My daughter Tara, who was born in 1999, was with me in the studio when she was three months old, making sounds as babies do," Eskinasi relates. "As a proud daddy, I recorded some of her burblings." This recording became a sample, which inspired the poignant, softly grooving "Tara's Melody." Also appearing on this track are samples of Rob Berends' saxophone and Natalia Gotbolt's vocals. Berends is a longtime friend and collaborator of the composer. Gotbolt is an Australian musician Eskinasi discovered singing in the streets of Amsterdam back in 1993. Her melodic gifts are also heard to advantage on several other cuts. What's remarkable about the samples is how organically Eskinasi incorporates them into his songs. They don't sound like samples, but rather, through some strange alchemy, as if they were captured live in the studio. This is yet another aspect of the music that sets it apart from that of other musicians. As comfortable as Eskinasi is in his studio, where he is free to focus on and develop new musical ideas, he also relishes the challenge of performing live. Audience feedback provides crucial inspiration, as does the live interaction with other musicians. Eskinasi recalls a jam session he played with a group of Japanese players, "We couldn't speak a word of each other's language, but we got it together and talked with our instruments." That scenario is indicative of the wide variety of musical settings in which Eskinasi earned his chops. He studied for years in Gambia, West Africa; played with the Soto Koto Band and with Professor Trance & the Energizers; and has recorded well-received solo albums. The Brainscapes series grew out of yet another collaboration, dating back to 1991, with Australian musician Jim Wafer, who was since gone on to other pursuits. Happily, there are further Brainscapes projects in the works, including a possible linkup with the Berlin-based duo Yulara. "I1m also working with DJ Fausto, who's also from Amsterdam, creating Trance and House music for the Dutch and British club scenes," Eskinasi says. "And I'm looking forward to preparing another 3rd Force album next year with my friends William Aura and Craig Dobbin." But for the moment, it's the present CD that is turning listeners on to the soulful possibilities inherent in the new millennium. With so much of what passes for music these days providing little more than wallpaper for the ears, it1s refreshing to witness a musician like Alain Eskinasi who's not afraid to reveal real human emotion and a Jazz-based sensibility allied to a rigorous, cerebral musical plan. The joyful groove of "Organica" perhaps best reflects the album's aesthetic. With its ascending harmonies and relentless rhythmic thrust, it1s like a soulful sonic waterfall that heralds a new direction in electronic sound. Eskinasi sums it up this way: "The new album illustrates how music and style comprise a universal language, one that transcends race, culture and language." Hal 3000 couldn1t have said it better.
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