- "Fifth World" fusions with a Balearic warmth.
- The Canadian producer Phoebé Guillemot, AKA RAMZi, makes rich, placeless music that spins on a different axis. Guillemot, a fan of the Fourth World architect Jon Hassell, has lightheartedly described her sound as "Fifth World," and it shares an affinity with Hassell's concept as " ... impossible to locate either chronologically or geographically." But Hassell is just one of many influences. Wade through Guillemot's catalogue and you'll discover kaleidoscopic creations gleaned from a deep pool of sources and inspirations.
Guilletmot mashes nature sounds with global sonic signifiers, from kwaito and kuduro to baile funk, and it's possible to spend hours tracing the music's contours and still end up somewhere new and unknown. Now Guillemot arrives with her latest album, Multiquest Niveau 1: Camouflé. It's the first in a series championing "interspecies harmony," and the fourth release for Guillemot's own FATi Records, which she launched in 2018 with Phobiza Vol. 3: Amor Fati.
Multiquest Niveau 1: Camouflé is a fantasy land teaming with strange, disorienting sounds and rhythms. It's a kind of maze you'll be happy to get lost in. "Muskin," the dizzying opener, unfolds into a buzzing ecosystem of unintelligible voices, idiophones, insects and sub-bass, which resurface again on "Rubicon" as a smoked-out Ethio-jazz stunner with a Balearic touch. "La Nuit L'été 1996" presents Guillemot's signature for warm, homely percussion and flits through vocal fragments that teeter on the edge of recognition.
The LP's straighter club tracks edge close to the sun-blushed house of Vancouver's Mood Hut, with whom Guillemot has released music in the past. "Balmi" cribs from Galcher Lustwerk's deep bubble-bath house, while "Trancehall" feeds the current appetite for trance and dancehall. Featuring Suzanne Kraft, "RAMZi Anthem" is a dubwise new age jam, while "Attack," another standout, is ambient house at its finest and most beatific.
The jumble of time and space on Multiquest Niveau 1: Camouflé eludes genre or location. However, an urge for cross-cultural pollination can sometimes lead to poor choices. Last February, Guillemot announced the cancellation of a joint LP with Priori (Francis Latreille), Jumanjí, after she was accused of cultural appropriation; the album sampled "Vande Mataram," the national song of India, a track tied to the Indian independence movement.
The use of samples like this is ripe for debate, notably when it comes to repurposing songs of cultural and political significance. "We knew of the patriotic nature of the music and thought it aligned properly with our appreciation of Indian music," read the label's response. "It was never our intention to exotify our music for the sake of making it more exciting, nor was the inclusion of this sampled material an afterthought."
Hassell, however, anticipated this sort of trouble. "I'm very concerned with the 'banalization of the exotic'," he said. "When everyone is into the 'exotic', then what's 'exotic'?" It could be argued that RAMZi's fusion-led method is just a reflection of our hyper-fragmented music consumption. But as we become more interconnected online, the time has come to give deeper thought to the execution of fusion in a world that feels much smaller and more interconnected.
02. Kombat feat. Jumanjí
05. Attack Moussaillon
06. La Nuit l'été 1996
08. Bad Fluti
09. O Saati
10. Bird Again
11. RAMZi's Anthem feat. C.K. U Kno