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Filastine - Dirty Bomb

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Artist: Filastine

Album: Dirty Bomb

Label: Soot

Review date: Apr. 1, 2009

Ours is an age when anyone with an ISP and sufficient inclination can sample the world’s musical wares, from the melancholic sounds of Moroccan gnawa to the ebullient bump-bump of carioca funk, without ever leaving the safe confines of the Internet. Even musical collaborations can be made at an arm’s length and an ocean’s distance away. But producer Grey Filastine prefers to keep things closer by venturing further afield. Though based in Barcelona, Filastine apparently spends most of his time on the road. He is an inveterate traveler, playing gigs and recording music in the far-flung corners of the globe. He’s played basement clubs in Prague, an anarchist street party in Tokyo, a megafestival in Casablanca, and even on a junk barge in the middle of the Mississippi River.

Dirty Bomb, Filastine’s second album on DJ/Rupture’s Soot imprint, is a musical product of his peripatetic wanderings. Recorded over a three-year period, the album’s 17 tracks were recorded in 16 cities with 15 different collaborators. The album is a gritty hodgepodge, a combustible mix in which musical styles and traditions rub up and collide with each other. This is no neatly manicured world music fusion, it’s a decidedly turbulent affair in which delicate flamenco guitar meets yawning sub bass, theremin wraps itself around ghostly Indonesian vocals, spastic crunk tussles with Japanese and aboriginal MCs, and static-filled field recordings sourced from protests and marches muddy the waters throughout.

In both form and lyrical content, Filastine’s is an overtly political music. A native of Seattle, Filastine was one of the founding members of the Infernal Rhythm Brigade, who provided the rhythmic backbeat to anarchist demonstrations around the world. It’s the kind of music that could easily disintegrate under the weight of its fractious constituent parts, especially since Filastine makes little effort to smooth over their differences. Instead, he maintains a strange kind of tension, leaving ragged edges – and bared teeth – fully intact. What ties all the disparate elements together is a taut thread of hip hop breaks, clattering electronic beats and wobbly dubstep bass.

While always plenty combustible, it’s not only righteous indignation and anger that fuels Dirty Bomb. There are also moments of uncanny beauty and jittery euphoria to be found in this heady transcultural mix. One of the most poignant of these comes at the album’s close on “Como Fugitvos,” when a young Anadalusian gypsy named La Perla wails over wrenching electronics and a dystopic mix of cello before strings fall apart.

By Susanna Bolle

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