Review: Bent Grooves, Bradfield Dumpleton, Indie Cds, 2008

Australian multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of contemporary world music Kim Sanders has once again gathered together some of his equally gifted musical friends for this exquisitely rendered collaboration.  This collection draws on traditions of Turkish Sufi and folk music, Balkan Gypsy, West African grooves, Indian Classical music and world jazz-fusion, and weaves these flavours together seamlessly.  The textures are smooth and often sultry, the rhythms are hypnotic, the melodies rich and the moods mostly mellow.

Sanders plays his usual array of Turkish & Bulgarian bagpipes & flutes, and is joined on this excursion by Bobby Singh (tabla), Sandy Evans (saxes), Carlos Vilanueva (charango), Steve Elphick (double bass), George Doukas (bouzouki, baglama), Llew Kiek (baglama) and Bobby Dimitrievski (clarinet).

Those familiar with Kim Sanders know that he has immersed himself first-hand in the cultures he draws from, living, travelling and making music in all these places, and his cohorts are similarly world class representatives of world music and jazz in Australia and overseas.  As a result this album offers the kind of relaxed yet intricate musical dialogues that can only flow with such seasoned players.

The bagpipes and saxophones figure prominently over the whole album, setting a certain consistent texture overall, but there are also some wonderful moments when the other instruments step forward and shine.   There is a fiery bouzouki (or is it baglama?) solo in Only A Surfer Knows The Feeling, and for the languid flamenco jazz of Bad Bodgie Bulerias the charango is invited to take the floor.  In the four-part Journey In Saba Makam the double bass and tabla are given some elbowroom.  In fact the rhythm section of Steve Elphick and Bobby Singh are consistently brilliant throughout the recording, anchoring complex beats and elaborate timings without it ever becoming too angular or agitated – the acoustic warmth of their respective instruments creates more of a velvet ripple, penetrating and persistent.

About a third of the tracks here are traditional tunes, mostly from Turkey, but the originals are largely inspired by the same traditions and you would probably only pick their western origin by their names – in fact it’s refreshing to see Kim’s tongue well in cheek with titles such as Speedbump (what surfers call bodyboarders) and Waste Of Time Busking.

Basically this is a very listenable album (if bagpipes don’t bother you that is), the musicianship is excellent, the production quality is crystalline and the sounds are exotic and entrancing.  A sumptuous addition to any world music collection.

– Bradfield Dumpleton 2008 for website (