I really donít know how I got into The Dum Dum Project
, to be honest with you. I do believe they were recommended to me through some friend who was getting into Middle Eastern-flavored music, and thought they were Americanized enough for me to be able to enjoy them. Regardless, I recently was going through my Winamp playlist when I found Export Quality
. What I was treated to was a strange blend of trip-hop and classical Middle Eastern instruments, but done so in sublime fashion.
The man behind all the madness is Sean Dinsmore (DJ Cavo), a rather strange man with a rather strange attraction to Middle Eastern culture. For the best description of his style on the record, think of it is a mix between DJ Shadow and Dan the Automator. Dinsmore certainly isnít afraid to go balls to the wall with his sampling, as much of the album consists of his rather hypnotic sampling style. One of the more impressive elements of his work is the infectious bass lines he seems to produce on a nearly song for song basis, that are both at once funky and yet soothing. He seems to want to lead you into a lull with the music, and so with good reason the album is best enjoyed when relaxing, perhaps reading a nice book while sipping on a Rum & Coke.
However, unlike his previous effort Desi Vibes
, Dinsmore also incorporates some live singing onto this record, and does so with mixed results. The main singer he has recruited, Asha Puthli, does her part quite well, particularly on Hey Diwani, Hey Diwana
, where her strange voice lends the song an extra bit of flair that makes the song that much more atmospheric. On the other hand, Baghwan Dasís guest spot on Let Me Show You
almost ruins the best song on the album, as his extremely Arabic sounding voice just tips the scales too far to one side. Luckily, Dinsmore doesnít go overboard with the vocals, and most of the singing on the album is limited to chants and a few lines sparingly.
Of course, the most impressive part of the record is the way in which traditional Middle Eastern instruments are infused into the music (for your information, James Goodrow did all the ďtrueď instrumental work on the album). The most apparent and famous of these is the Sitar, utilized as the driving force for many of the songs on this album. Opting out of merely sampling them like much of the rest of the album, the sitar is instead played live on here, which gives it a nice organic feel that juxtaposes well with the rather electronic feel of the rest of the album. Elephant Style
is the most flagrant user of the sitar on the album, and it certainly benefits, as the strange hypnotic effect it has certainly stresses both dynamics of the album quite well. The other instrument of note is the kalimba, a strange little piano-like tool that gives off a psuedo-drum tone, that often takes the part as the lead rhythm section in any given song, and just helps to emphasize the strange blend Dinsmore manages to create on the album.
The album does not, however, ďlast its length." There just arenít enough unique ideas to spread out in its 50+ minute length, and as such, by albums end youíll wish the record had been cut by at least 10 minutes. However, sans that flaw, the album manages to accomplish its goal, creating a singular blend of trip hop and Middle Eastern-tinged world music that is at least worth a listen, if not a download. In the end, Export Quality
is a strong second effort by The Dum Dum Project, and shows that a little experimentation and vision can go a long way. As long as that long way isnít over 50 minutes away.