Vampire Nation - "Wise-Ta-Nech [Pre-European Africa]"
(Hexagon/J-Bird Records, 6 1746 80328-2, 2000)
From Aural Innovations #15 (April 2001)
As implied by the song-titles, samples and some of the percussion, the theme here has to do with Africa, but musically this is pretty standard techno/trance of a laid-back and melodic nature. The beats are not of the hard-driving, pound-the-dancefloor kind, but more for good background, chill-out, mixed-drink ambience. The 13 tracks are not long and drawn-out wave-ambience but brief statements based on the central beat. The keyboards are non-intrusive, not overtly psychedelic or spacey, and there is no overwhelming sound-layering, making some of the tunes almost instantaneously catching. There are plenty of the expected cliches present, such as the "afro-american female" (or maybe just "African" might be more appropriate here) samples and low-mixed synth washes. As far as band-comparisons go, FSOL's first album might be fair, but I've heard this kind of stuff done over and over by numerous other outfits as well.
But there are some generally good tracks with those catchy, nice-and-smooth beats and accompanying keyboard lines. Some stand-out tracks are "Zulu Pride: The Art of the Comeback", "Sailing Down Africa", "The Great Distortion" and "Greatness of Etheopia". Though this is not recommended to the average space-rocker or fan of daring electronic/experimental music, it's perhaps as good a disc as any for someone interested in just sampling the above-described style. And for those who must have it all in said genre, go for it. I'll save this for those special occasions (such as when I'm cruising down the Nile, tiger-hunting, etc... like this weekend).
For more information you can visit the Vampire Nation web site.
"Wise-Ta-Nech [Pre-European Africa]" is distributed by Hexagon Records. You can visit their web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Hexagon Records; PO Box 42303; Pittsburgh, PA.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg