Stefan Schneider's 2009 album under the Mapstation moniker, like the previous ones, puts Africa at the center of it all, right down to the name of the album. The whole idea of summarizing an entire continent with a vast multiplicity of cultures, musical and otherwise, is a little eyebrow-raising still, but Schneider is if nothing else working in a well-established vein of electronic European performers finding their own interpretations in a broad construction of a larger idea (Holger Czukay and Brian Eno being just two of many). Working with three collaborators throughout -- percussionists Nicholas Addo-Nettey and Thomas Klein and trombonist Annie Whitehead, whose sly, almost mournful parts on songs like "Bells and Lions" and "Carmel," adds lovely shades to the primarily electronic sound -- Schneider's creations emphasize rhythm first and foremost, polyrhythms where appropriate but at the same time retaining an underlying, spare drive that is almost sensed more than heard. "My Son the Dancer" is a stellar example, a persistent pulse being the center of a soft flow of plucked and struck notes that ranks among the album's most elegant constructions. Addo-Nettey's occasional vocal interjections add a sudden sense of urgency to songs like "Mchiki Cha" but mostly he lets his percussion do the speaking for him. Meantime, in quieter moments like the gentle start to "The Protector" that grows into an underpinning demi-drone throughout the soft rolling rhythms of the song and the soft groove of "Work Song," Schneider finds a less frenetic approach that is no less entrancing.
|Ensemble of Four||Mapstation||0:27|
|Bells and Lions||Mapstation||3:40|
|My Son the Dancer||Mapstation||1:48|
|Return of the Hunters||Mapstation||5:27|
|After All This Freedom||Mapstation||3:44|