Mani Neumeier + Friends — Terra Amphibia: Deep in the Jungle
(Prudence 398.6686.2, 2003, CD)
by Mike Ezzo, Published 2004-09-01Terra Amphibia is the project which occupies Mani Neumeier during time away from Guru Guru. World music and East Asian culture appropriation are Mani’s hobbies, which find him jamming and flirting with the natives and wildlife in Nepal, Bali, and other sundry hot Asian climes. Deep in the Jungle is the latest in this series of recordings that sees him surrounded by a vast percussion array, soaking in ethnic moods and having what seems a genuinely joyful time. While the instruments are native to the region, the compositions usually conform to Western preconceptions of structure and form. Mani shows an admirable sense of orchestration in forming these collages, where just the right cymbal or gong is placed in just the right spot. But there is more than drumming here. Guitarists and flute also add a welcome contrasting character, and a very necessary slice of melody (something surprisingly lacking in efforts like this). A few cuts feature chanting as well, and Mani often splices in natural sounds to deepen the sonic scope. It works splendidly. As does his penchant for shaking up the scene by exploring a different rhythmic mood and musical culture on each piece. A well-informed ethnomusicalogical listener might possibly pick out the influences from gamelan, Tibetan chant, and other sources. Some vocals in English tend to be somewhat jarring on a work like this, but they are kept to a limit. Probably not for all ears, this CD is nevertheless a good statement of Neumeier’s craft, and recommended.
Related artist(s): Mani Neumeier
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