Badawi Clones and False Prophets

Raz Mesinai continues to blend Middle Eastern rhythms with technology and live instrumentation. Clones and False Prophets is a somewhat different album than his last release, the frantically brilliant Soldier of Midian. Featuring more instrumentalists than any other Badawi release, Mesinai reaches for a live band rendition of his relentless looping techniques. The players, while well chosen, can't convey the urgency that fits his music so well. Drummer Ben Perowsky is no stranger to odd time signatures, but it sounds muffled, as though his kit is poorly miked, or he's just not playing hard. Marc Ribot, who is the very definition of the edgy New York art guitarist, also sounds lacking in distinctiveness. He sports a mostly distorted tone, and not an interesting one at that. He is deployed purely as a rhythmic and textural part of the music, blunting his ability to create inventive lead lines and sounds. Mesinai's piano playing is effective, if not wildly inventive, tending to be used as tuned percussion rather than as a harmonic underpinning. Fortunately, the electronic processing remains strong, and though it is far from the lead voice, sews up the rest of the ensemble nicely. Clones is a self-contained suite, so the individual deficiencies of the songs and the production are leavened by the flow of the music. However, the true test of this music is at great volume: the louder you turn it up, the better it gets. Don’t listen to this on your Discman or iPod, hook up a subwoofer and stand back. (ROIR)