News flash: Western music isn’t the end-all-be-all. The Beatles knew it. So did Paul Simon. Peter Gabriel too. These days, San Francisco-based Beats Antique is turning a whole new generation onto world music via their electronica-infused hybrid. It’s belly dance music for the digital age. They’ve even got a tummy flutterer on their tour bus. Blind Threshold, Beats’ third LP, is a true treat.
Boxes are for squares. Yes, Beats Antique’s music is multi-cultural, but they don’t limit themselves to a Middle Eastern palette either. Harmonica virtuoso John Popper, best known for his radio rodeo with Blues Traveler, gifts his mouth organ feats to Threshold‘s first single There Ya Go.” I’ve never been a huge fan of the man’s lip gymnastics, personally. Still, hearing it digitally manipulated by Beats’ knob twiddlers David Satori and Tommy Sidecar is definitely listenable.
Popper isn’t the only outsider that pops up on Threshold. Vocalist Eva Salina lends her pipes to the Balkan-esque “Nasvalo.” Traditionalists: don’t fretâ€”Beats’ treatment of Salina’s contribution is extremely tasteful. Yes, there is some slight vocal splicing and subtle electronic flourishes, but it’s not like the track is packed with obnoxious record scratches or massive dubstep bass. Lynx, a singer Beats remixed previously (“She’s Looking for Something”), also shows up on the tune “Rising Tide.” Even though Popper’s technically more famous, “Rising Tide” might’ve made a better single (or might make a good second one), as it’s Threshold‘s most accessible number, without being paint-by-numbers. Lynx is an uber-talented former Boulderite who freestyles and six-strings as well.
Speaking of axes, harmonica isn’t the only curve ball. Beats’ instrumentation is always eclectic–sitar-like guitar, synthesizers, violin, zills (finger cymbals), horns, accordians, winds, etc. There’s a theremin on Threshold‘s “Grandstand.” And banjo on “Rising Tide.” And something else entirely on “Revival.” Never a dull moment in the timbre department.