By Stefan Wood
Looking for some killer soundscapes? Hu Vibrational's fourth album, "Epic Botanical Suite," puts forth eight tracks of gorgeously rich and densely textured music. Led by Adam Rudolph (leader of the Go: Organic Orchestra) and with new collaborators Bill Laswell, Eivind Aarset, Steve Gorn, and a battery of percussionists, Hu Vibrational combines world music with electronica and improvised jazz to create music that is funky, spiritual, hardcore, and soothing. Beats are the core, given the personnel, and influences range far and wide, like Africa ("Hikuli"), Indian ("Agobi"), and Brazilian ("Ya-jey"). Yet these influences only provide a foundation.
The musicians build upon it with layers and layers of percussion, electronics and strings. It is less beat heavy and more rhythmic. Like Susie Ibarra's wonderful group Electric Kulintang, Hu Vibrational brings a high level of quality, taste and inventiveness that elevates the music from trance sounds or being background music. This version of the group sounds similar to the sound and aesthetics of the great African Head Charge. Tracks like "Charas" and "Soma," are such examples -- thick rhythms that weave in a dense texture that is broken up by waves of sound, electonic voicings, shredding guitars or light flutes.
"Epic Botannical Suite" is a stunning effort, enjoyable and grows with repeated listening. Recommended!