My suspicion is that Ido Ziv is probably the type of guy who has more frequent flier miles than he knows what to do with. The percussionist’s new album Assiya draws intercontinental inspiration from all over the globe, with a wide range of native rhythms and eclectic instrumentation to fill out his particularly holistic vision of what the world’s music sounds like. There is a rambling mix of east and west, old and new, that at times is completely incoherent. But sometimes, when incoherence doesn’t become irritating, it can be a strength. On the CD, Ziv pastes together sounds from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and beyond, making a collage of discoveries both from native musicians as well as from rhythms of the street and from inside the discotheques.

Wisely, Ido Ziv does not feel the need to take center stage. Percussion can be a perfect additive - the secret sauce that makes great music what it is. Taken too far though, it risks devolving into a monotonous drum circle, which is fine for the park, but not for great music. Ziv seems to sense this from the cover of the album to the music contained within. It says “Ido Ziv and Friends” on the sleeve, and the musicians surrounding Ido are given almost top billing. This is particularly true of Ari Mendes who layers beautiful acoustic, electric, and bass guitar work throughout the album and shares songwriting duties on many of the tracks. Ziv shows a true musical appreciation of both the roots of his songs and the players he’s enlisted to play them.

The songs themselves vary across the spectrum. Simple African rhythms butt heads with electronic and sampled percussion on “It Don’t Come Easy” featuring vocals by M’Mah Doumbouya. Whistles and pipes of a Celtic reel whoosh into the strobing pulses of rave music on “Reelwind,” and syrupy saxophones and a funky bass guitar jazz up the congas and djembe on “Cheetah Surprise.” The result is a wonderfully schizophrenic carpet ride. Imagine a magical radio tuned to every music in the world and a crazy percussionist quickly shifting from one station to the next and back again so that the sounds of planet Earth form one continuous sound – that is what Assiya is.

Aaron Stein
JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 8/2/05]

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