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Published: 2005/06/02
by Jamie Lee

Impossible Broadcasting – Trans-Global Underground

Triloka/Artemis 82054

The cross-cultural mash-up known as Trans-Global Underground is based on an uncommon premise: the integration of core international styles — particularly those from Jamaica, India, Africa and Asia — paired with electronic dance beats in an effort to breach the formalities of musical styles. However, on Impossible Broadcast, the group’s eighth album since the early 1990s, the collective’s sonic adventures read with more depth than they play through headphones.

Opening like a quick flick of the radio dial, Impossible Broadcasting sets a crude tone through a din of chants, crumbling static and stoic bass beats. From there, African rhythms meld with sitar swing, tribal explorations and electronic effects often collide abruptly, and the occasional composition is served topped with spoken words that roll awkwardly from native tongues. At other times, when the verse is expressed in English like the track "Yellow and Black Taxi Cab," the subject matter and arrangement spill from the speakers to the floor, leaving puddles of uninspired lines like, "Yellow and black taxi cab, honk your horn and drive on." At other times, such as "Stoyane/Male-Le," and "Isis K," pointed vocals crash with generic beats, rumbling through strange, yet lifeless territory.

While flourishes of ingenuity swell through the dub funk frequencies of "Take the Tram," the overall goal of the group doesn't translate, ending up marred by the oft-forced pairing of traditional and contemporary. While the veteran band has created a reputation for the synthesis of those very aspects, Impossible Broadcasting leaves the listener deserted amidst a sea of enchanting intention that disappears before its relevance can be truly realized.

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