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We Are Three
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This British-based Asian dance group fuses Indian sounds with Western dance aesthetics, aspiring to create a form of transcendental techno. Joi's sonic agenda involves taking live and sampled instrumentation--tablas, sitars, flutes, vocals--and assimilating them into electronic dance grooves. It's a sonic investment that yields mixed dividends. While Joi insinuate spontaneous playing and some subtle changes into their beat-driven tunes, they generally fall into the repetitive trap of like-minded efforts. "Deep Asian Vibes" stacks up various instruments over house grooves with little regard for melodic or rhythmic progression. And the rambunctious "Tacadin" sounds like the Chemical Brothers with a slight Eastern tinge. Some of the tunes do strive to spiritually uplift, most notably the laid-back grooves of "Triatma" and the subtly hypnotic "Holy Side," which contrasts a bass-heavy rhythm section with nasaly vocals. Unfortunately the frequent lapse into cyclic structures keeps the music from achieving the consciousness-expanding effect the group may desire. Ultimately those seeking exotic refreshment for their feet on the dance floor may be enticed by We Are Three, but those seeking spiritual nourishment amid the grooves may wish to look elsewhere. --Bryan Reesman
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I had mentioned in my review of Joi's first album that it occasionally showed their inexperience. Their second effort shows they have definitely evolved. It also shows how the surviving brother has carried on despite the tragic death of the other brother.
After the completion of their first album, Haroon traveled to Bangladesh to lay down tracks with local musicians for a follow-up album, only to die suddenly of a heart attack upon his return to England. Though devastated, Farook managed to complete We Are Three as a tribute to his brother.
An inspired Farook shows us that the spirit of Joi lives on; that love and beauty can survive tragedy and loss. The album immediately grabs you with the tabla stylings of 'Journey' that sets the tone for what is to come - a spirit that will not be overcome. The next four tracks carry on the theme of lively tabla based electronic breakbeats superbly alternating Asian and Western rifts and rhythms. Then with 'Triatma,' the album take and abrupt turn into a dreamy acoustical guitar-based song that conjures images of breezy beaches. That theme continues with the hauntingly beautiful 'Flying With You' which does an excellent job of setting the title to music. Then almost jarringly, the mood switches again with the in-your-face 'Tacadin' that captures the spirit of the Asian Underground club scene while defiantly transcending it. The album culminates with the inspirational, uplifting 'We Need Your Vote' that deftly captures the feeling of enduring hope and love. More than a few times I have played that song over and over while I drive. It is that good.
Still, beneath all the musical artistry, you have the bittersweet feeling it is a damn shame Haroon will not be around to lay down more of his massive hooks. We can only earnestly hope that Farook will continue the legacy and promise that he and his brother began.