When I went looking for this week's random album to review, the name Shivaboom leapt at me from the CD stacks, calling to mind ShamWow! and its accompanying douchebag salesman. I really hope it doesn't feature a Hindu god half-heartedly muttering catchphrases like "It sells itself," and "It's Shiva...BOOM!"
At first gander, I thought Shivaboom was the band name, but it appears to be the album title (disappointing!). The band is eccodek (lower-case intentional), who, according to the jacket, is a "Canadian soud scientist," and whose "melodies soaring from earth to sky take the far-raching global dub journey from cultural authenticity to the cutting edge." Let's give it a spin.
Whatever eccodek may be, he is not cutting edge, unless electronic world music is suddenly new again (perhaps Talvin Singh would have something to say about that). But that's not to say that Shivaboom is bad stuff. It doesn't soar from earth to sky, but eccodek blends his many influences pleasantly, providing a nice ambient backdrop for meditation, yoga, or the enjoyment of any number of illegal substances.
But as an active-listening album, Shivaboom suffers greatly from the curse of much of dub and world music: it all sounds the same. For fifty minutes, you're treated to an unbroken stream of ethnic flute, minor-key yodeling, and e-bow navel-gazing. Perhaps it's my uncultured Western ear and not the music to blame, but the end result is much the same.
A few of the later tracks have enough vivacity to stand out from the pack, notably "Black Beauty," which features bright vocals and a bouncy rhythm section, and "When The Bird Calls," a more laid-back, meandering track that nonetheless manages to convince the listener that it's meandering somewhere.
The Low Point
Track 4, "Silent Song," is sleepy. A little too sleepy. Like, "don't listen to it after noon or you might faceplant on your keyboard" sleepy.
"Black Beauty" features enough horns to furnish the Pamplona bull festival, mixed together with some sort of wind instrument (or perhaps a novel use of the e-bow?) that sounds like an autotuned human voice. The effect tweaks the ear in a wholly pleasant way - it's the best arrangement of sounds on the album.
How Much Should You Pay?