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Irian Jaya / Chronograph

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4

All-Reviews.com Music Review: Irian Jaya / Chronograph

Artist: Eleven Shadows
Genre: Techno/Electronica
Release Date: June 1999


Review by DjBatman
3½ stars out of 4

Ladies and gentlemen, you're floating in your own inner space.  I got in touch with Eleven Shadows (aka Ken Lee plus various contributors) about four years ago, I think.  Ken had a track ("Shegar") published by UK music magazine Future Music; I was intrigued by the fact that a guy from Encino, CA could produce beautiful ethno-ambient music with an oriental feel and female vocals in Italian. So I sent him an e-mail and we stayed in touch for a while. Through his messages and his website (http://www.theeleventhhour.com) I learned about the progress made by his works, the collaborations he was into (one of these is a project called Paramecial Wedding, that has been also presented live) and his inspiring travels to exotic places like Tibet and India.

A couple of years ago, when I was asked to find new music for a compilation to be released in Italy by a new label, I contacted various friends around the world and of course Ken was one of them. This way I had the possibility to hear more of his excellent, professionally recorded material (on DAT!!!) and to lose myself in the percussion-filled aural ambients of tracks like "Wamena" (which was chosen for the compilation). Actually, after more than one year of hard work, contracts, travels, studio time, emails and faxes around the world, that infamous label did not release that disc, which is still on hold. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Ocean, Ken was struggling to see his stuff released. Well, it took a while, but finally, at the beginning of summer 1999 this excellent double CD (two albums for the price of one!!) comes out, on the Curve label. Also, with "Sangsara" coming out soon on the Ad Astra label, 1999 announces as the year of Eleven Shadows. Right now I am enjoying "Salawati", and I have just finished listening to "Wamena", having again that incredible feeling of getting lost in an exotic world of sound, with ethnic instruments, keyboards, percussion and the operatic vocals of Judy Neubauer. As the first cd stops I switch to cd 2 and I get back to "Shegar", which was the song that (for me) started it all; the lyrics are about a man crying near a circle of stones... the remains of his house. If I'm not wrong, this song was inspired by a real person met by Ken during one of his oriental trips. The same album contains other Italian operatic numbers like "Caro mio ben" and "O mio babbino caro". Ahhh. You know, I'm envious. I had the idea (well... I wasn't the first, to be honest!) of doing a track with this Puccini-borrowed aria (from the opera "Gianni Schicchi"... sadly used in Italy in a tv commercial) years ago. I would have loved to sample Maria Callas' voice and put it in the middle of a rave/techno anthem. Eleven Shadows do not sample anyone nor they (he?) are into techno. Their rendition of the aria is stunning anyway. Let's say that it's my third favourite version after the Callas version and the one contained in "Lauretta" by Malcolm McLaren (on his heavily opera-inspired 1984 album "Fans"). Is that enough as a compliment? :-) And you'll be even more shocked when you'll hear vocals switching to German and French (!). Quoting from the liner notes: "Let it be known that no looping or sequencing were utilized". Well, in the days in which looping and sequencing seem indispensablein every record production and everyone is sampling everyone else, Eleven Shadows are/is the proof that "real" musicians are still here and they definitely still have a lot to tell. Now throw away that Celine Dion disc and go buying "Irian Jaya/Chronograph".

10000031

 


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