You are being redirected - hold on tight!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Music Review: M.I.A goes POW! Drops Her Best Album Yet

Maya Arulpragasm (aka M.I.A.) dressed for some night jogging

Sri Lankan rapper/singer M.I.A. (pronounced like "maya") is connoisseur of rhythm, a veritable beat specialist. Like James Brown, she's never met a groove or a polyrhythm she didn't want to ride and on her new album Kala she serves up the results on a gleaming silver platter. Her last record, 2005's Arular, was produced by Diplo with a dense steamy mix that acted as a sensory assault, while still shakin' booties. Kala (XL Records) goes straight to the ass however, stripping away anything that doesn't serve the rhythmic flow and building layers of airy open sound out of people talking, M.I.A. rapping and singing in her distinct lilt and odd juxtapositions of lyrics and influences. "20 Dollar" comes in on gunshots, fuzz guitar, quasi-Indian vocals from M.I.A. and electro-drums before she she starts rapping, her flow insistent and cajoling until suddenly she hits the chorus and it's a cover of "Where is My Mind?" by The Pixies. "Bamboo Banger" similarly takes The Modern Lovers pre-punk classic "Roadrunner" and transforms it into a refrain for third-worlders banging on the doors of passing Hummers that could be full of tourists or soldiers or both. The killer single "Bird Flu" busts out of the speakers with squawking, Burundi-style drumming and wild vocal trills. "Jimmy" is a Bollywood tribute that's as smooth as melting butter and deserves to be a smash. "Mango Pickle" is as addictive as M.I.A. claims the titular snack is and features the rapping of aboriginal Australian pre-pubescents The Wilcannia Mob. They give this song about fishing and eating a strange skew with their high raspy voices and didgeridoo. Then there is "Paper Planes which samples The Clash's "Straight to Hell" in the service of discussing M.I.A.'s wanderings forced and otherwise. As a side-effect of Bush's stringent visa policies she was unable to work with Timbaland on the entire album, as was her plan. As the one Timbaland track shows, this was a good thing as her globetrotting yields up an album of diverse and eclectic pleasure all aligned with the hips and wedded to lyrics about third world democracy and "boyz" who start wars. This one gets 5 out of 5 Visas, a modern dancefloor clasic in the making:

No comments: