Alex Catteneo / Ganesh Anandan Asi Nisa Masa

Guitarist Alex Catteneo and percussionist Ganesh Anandan have assembled an instrumental line-up designed to raise eyebrows — electric guitar, percussion, harmonica and sousaphone. Asi Nisa Masa is a mix between live performance and subtle studio tweaking — perhaps too subtle. The central thrust of this music is two percussionists exploring Indian time signatures and patterns. The other instruments take their cues from the percussion patterns in jazz-like head-solo-head arrangements. The percussion interplay is wonderful throughout. The range of guitar textures and techniques is good but not overly innovative — Cattaneo picks his spots rhythmically and his moderate use of effects adds depth without becoming overbearing. The presence of harmonica automatically places the band in the realm of the blues, and the music sometimes struggles to break out of that orientation. Another problem is the lack of bass frequencies; the sousaphone is too far back in the mix to add drive where it ought to — this project could take lessons from Shantel’s approach on the Bucovina Club style mixing of gypsy brass. Overall, there is dullness to the mix; a little more prominence and separation to the percussion and dub-ification of the harmonica might flatter the interesting compositions more. This disc is better than the sum of its parts, but further live work should see these ideas gel more. (Independent)