Adham Shaikh Essence

Fans of the Interchill, Instinct and Dakini labels will be familiar with West coast-based producer, musician and DJ Adham Shaikh. Though perhaps best known as part of four-member collective Ekko (their brilliant 1999 Centripetal release remains a personal favourite), Shaikh has been creating both solo and collaborative efforts for the past 15 years. He's a true producer, brilliant at pulling peoples' talents together and insightfully committed to his vision of electronics meeting organic (often ancient) instrumentation. Essence is gorgeous, daring and respectful, blending the globally renowned bansuri (North Indian flute) playing of Catherine Potter with the beats of Montreal producer Freeworm, dub-wise bass skills of Sean Hill, flute stylings of artist Jean-Marc Guillemette, percussion of Yasmine Amal, and much more. "Somptin Hapnin (water in me)" dubs, flows and shakes as vocalist Kinnie Starr pays tribute to water, trees and life. "Sabadhi" cements Shaikh's reputation for producing finely tuned, ambient loveliness while its sister masterpiece, "Sabadub," offers a more beat-heavy, dub-wise treatment of bansuri, berimbau, and viola. Adham also beautifully balances traditional and experimental, natural and organic during "Sufi Spin." Here, recordings of Balinese dancing, chanting and flute meet complex beats, the tabla playing of Ekko's E Shankar, and thick grooves, resulting in a deep, heartfelt, engaging whole. Essence also showcases Adham's remix skills, with solid treatments of both Ekko's "Shiraz" (the album's most up-tempo number) and Lisa Walker's humpback whale-inspired "Orcadrift." But it's with his dubbed-out reworking of Legion of Green Men's "Constellation" that Shaikh really cuts loose, adding tension, builds, and thick slabs of bass. It's a massive treatment that's as true to the original as it is fresh to the ear. (Sonicturtle)