Feature

Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain

Geography and culture lose definition

Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain Global Drum Project (360 Degrees/Shout Factory)

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“Geography and culture lose definition” when longtime percussion partners Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain reunite, said Derk Richardson in the San Francisco Chronicle. Hart, of the Grateful Dead, and Hussain, the North Indian tabla virtuoso, have been friends since the early 1970s. The dynamic duo more or less put the genre of world music on the map in 1991, when they brought home a Grammy for Planet Drum. With Global Drum Project, they’ve created a “vast and spectacular soundscape rife with references and tantalizing samples.” Though rooted in rock and raga, said Mark Jenkins in The Washington Post, they here venture into the digital domain and send listeners off on a long, strange sonic trip. Unlike the acoustically driven Planet Drum, all eight tracks layer electronic elements over their organic rhythm and beats. “‘Kaluli Groove’ slinks through a forest of beats, samples, and deep echoes, in the manner of Jamaican dub reggae and its British heir, trip-hop,” while “Baba” features a vocal sample of the Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, the Planet Drum luminary who died in 2003. Those songs stand out, said Nate Chinen in The New York Times. The rest of the record, however, turns “self-consciously inward.” The concept of an airy universal ideal unmoored from traditional musical modes might be revolutionary to Hart and Hussain, but it’s actually “grown commonplace in world music.”

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