Year : 2013
Genre : Reggae Funk with Jungle Jazz affections
Origin : United Kingdom
Official site : > - here - <
London resident Teni is one contemporary representative of the timeless exotic/afro musical vibes skillfully established and expressed by such artists as Shade in the '80s. Remember the song "Smooth Operator?" Teni surely does, and I suspect it is one of her all time favorites - I might be wrong, of course. (I don't particularly think Shade had any other songs, anyway.)
Nevertheless, Teni elegantly relies on efficient tonalities revolving around the exotic African - tautology? - scale. Africa is only exotic if you are not there. Your host, Teni takes you there, AND back. If you'd prefer to stick around, there is no power preventing you from submitting to the music on a rince and repeat basis, IF you are Tiga' on AfroDisiac enough for that. Luckily, the urge to conform to the suspected expectational tendencies of the Western listener, is almost non-existent on Teni's record, thereby claiming and radiating a legitimate identity. African Gods & Co. save us from Western pop music with exotic mannerisms - this release does not commit such sonic atrocities at all. The first thing you need to get rid of, is your ingrained beliefs about how the exotic music should sound like, and don't you worry (all that much) that the stimulus sounds quite similarly to the conventions you were willing to sacrifice into private oblivion - the data sticks to you with increased efficiency upon multiple listens, and there is just enough movement in the songs to keep you situated between Afro Nirvana and very much physical palm trees with rascal monkeys on it.
Teni does what she is capable of, - which always is the optimum - yet does this with zero doubt in her singing abilities. This is a good thing, that conveys a sense of self confidence to her overall performance, and even while she explores her current limitations, she remains enthusiastic. A pleasure to behold such precedent. The music has a relative willingness to revolve around its own axis as Teni showcases her favorite note selections of the African scale - and her taste/musical vision doubtless reflects the primordial wilderness with metaphysical efficiency - she, nevertheless, at this point in her career is suspect to overdo some particular tonalities, even though this effect is only observable when you give the album a full facetime. Only 100 times you can slide into an "F" from an "F sharp" without the audience finally noticing it. Read on to know more about this.
The album has nothing to hide away from you, and considerably much more of efficient moments and highlights. An abundant, well focused collection of ideas, even if certain ideas willingly incorporate relative stillness. Trust me, stillness is a necessary component in reggae, when the temperature is 55 Celsius and you spent the last 3 days on a tree above two lions. "When Will It Be" is the most mature song on the delivery, with a pretty much transcendental quality to it, and Teni reveals the Inner Shaman Voodoo Goddess for your listening pleasure, - finally, Teni! - while the harmonic/rhythmic surroundings of her voice reveal the same mood as John Coltrane's Jungle Jazz base-statement "Afro Blue". This isn't small feat to exhibit.
The reggae side of things is "just" that, but highly efficient at that - it is nice to hear a lady singing, and, even better, Teni occasionally works with a very talented backing vocalist. These sung interchanges between the competent female sonic presences surely give you a lot to soak your ears into. I don't know if it is a conscious decision that no males are singing on the disc, - if so, then it is a good decision, too! - but I'm perfectly good with the release being 101% female -sung. It would be a valid idea, in my opinion, to use this backing vocal chick (almost) all the time. For instance, there is this song on the album, "Your Love Is The Key" - Teni is right about this, by the way - a track that reflects the best traditions of ancient-era Snap, and the effort, in my opinion, begs for a more pronounced backing vocal presence - even though I'm not too keen on offering concrete, essentially inconsequential and arbitrary impressions like this, because you could similarly be a dickless troll and voice an opinion on how Michelangelo's David should sport lengthier hair or whatnot. (And you should be silent more frequently, probably.) I personally would listen to these exotic females even without the well made-, traditional reggae backdrops to surround their patterns of eloquence, as never forget that the possibilities are doubled when there are two singers present.
As designated, the album has yet another quality to it then being a full fledged reggae output, as you can't help but notice the mature funk affections - particularly in the bass and through the harmonies - from a galactic mile. A brass section similarly is observable from time to time, - like in the superb track Lionheart. Notice the different weight values the respective instruments represent themselves by in this track! This is a true rarity to witness in a day and age when compressing the shit out of shit - a "brilliant" idea! - is the sub-optimum norm. "Lionheart" probably is the most organic song I have heard recently, and I'm very careful not to throw around compliments like this on every corner, you have to work for it.
I don't know if Teni is familiar with Godlike Nina Hagen, but it is interesting to witness how certain segments of this release are mirroring various stages of Hagen's career- probably a coincidence, - like there would be such things - or these two females are just calibrated to the same emotional fields, which is much more plausible, in my opinion. For these similarities, compare the upbeat "Revolution" song on this release with Nina Hagen's "Frequency Control". The same meaning, essentially, expressed with superb and subtle stylistic differences. I'm 100% sure that these two - Hagen and Teni - would admire each other's music.
The disk has this capacity to deliver superbly in this three aspects : it is a competent and relevant reggae declaration, yet the additional flavor components of true relevance - consisting of funk and jungle jazz - surely elevate this effort above all basic expectations. I suspect that sooner or later Teni will develop addition tonalities to her singing toolset - beside sliding half a note downward - but she is pretty efficient as she is. The album is perfectly capable to make you check if the room you are in is occupied by a tiger, because the music does a great job of convincing you of this. Once reggae funk jazz can pull this off - and Teni & Co. can - you are lucky to witness the attraction.
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