Mensch Music Peeni Waali vs Schildpatt : "Sha" (CH/..,2006)***°
The basic foundations for this record are mostly jazzy improvisations. A small section of musical interconnections are provided by Alan Kushan's santur-improvisations. Besides this, there are always several ethnic world elements (or the appearance of ethnic music instruments mostly, with on at least some track, a voice sample), provided by many guests, of which just some are related with world music, and seemingly also with the world music label Face Records, also based in Switzerland. There are throatvocals from Mongolia on some tracks, and there are other influences noticeable from Persian origin (a Derwish dance with spoken word piece), African, Caribbean (?), and even Swiss Alps !! –mixed with other contexts- (on “Cliché Alpum”), with some intertwining sub-genres (including a Jamaican (?) influence, referring to some sub-genre, sipping into the other improvisations), always fitting with the improvised and rather jazzy (??) approach. The album sounds as if it is composed as one large improvised (jazz) piece, with a few extra arrangements on it, but is recorded in various places and times. One of the most famous co-operators is Lars Hollmer on accordion, (even if it is only less than a minute long), with a droning improvisation mixed well into the Persian mode of santur and also some didgeridoo of the next track. “Canabeat” has some spoken word fragment of a child when writing something down on a board.
Even when this group is different, in some way they could fit well with their (German) neighbours Embryo, who more often invited ethical musicians to play with their rather “progressive” jazz-rock approach.
PS. I remember having heard and found the first, private, Schildpatt CD release (“Bunju”, 1986), as a long and slow improvisation. This newer, cooperative album however has many more elements, making it a convincing musical journey (from start to finish).
Mensch Music Peeni Waali : The Eve of... -final version- (CH/..,2000)*°°
The group send me an improved & revised version of this double CD, leaving out some weaker tracks and having replaced them with previous “sequels”, to get the best picture of what this 12 year composition cycle of Peeni Waali was, a story which started in 1991...
The fundament on this record is much more often Jamaican reggae, dub and ska. Not for adventurous reasons, but for pure pleasure and fun, various tracks (not the earliest) are mixed with other cross-cultural interventions and combinations. Some of them I liked more than others. But I think the sessions done with Lee “Scratch” Perry were rather successful. Some combinations are a bit odd, and somewhat humorous. From the first CD I like very much “Colorace” about a guy being black in all of life's conditions, accompanied with a tango-like bandeon, flute, piano, guitars, children voices and so on. Another favourite is “More Nice Time”, starting with African melodic percussion mixed with dulcimer, Swiss yodel, and then with a ska brass orchestra, with Swiss accordion, one of the tracks with Lee “Scratch” Perry. From the replaced tracks, “Pub Dub” is an odd combination of an Irish traditional into dub, while “Sleep Dub” is another, slow dub track with Mongolian throat vocals (!), while “SkaRab”, performed with Middle eastern keyboards and percussion, and some chill-out beat ideas, mixed with an Arab vocal sample, is my favourite of the three unusual combination tracks (which came from the album “The Dawn”). From the second CD I also liked to mention a few more odd combinations, because that is often my favourite territory. Strange is a dub brass with Hammond organ version from “Satin Doll” (written by Duke Ellington). “Maxi Mali” is another worth mentioning track, which seems to be a medley or resume of all the group’s musical interests, with elements of previously done tracks, with a core of heavy funky guitar/fuzz bass, and also with use of some turntable mixes.
I think this album is more interesting to those with an open mind who like dub/reggae and ska, but who would like to hear some bridges to other styles, without losing the easy going fun the mentioned music genres have.