Mr Raoul K - Introducing My World

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  • For those in the dark about Mr Raoul K, it would be easy to pass off his first long-player as a clumsy attempt at smooshing world music into a club mould. With track names like "Japan Japon," "A Guinean Village" and an abundance of ethnic-sounding instrumentation, it's not an unfair assessment. Problem is, Mr K is actually from Africa, which for many could serve as admission of authenticity. Still, shouldn't the music be judged alone, without that knowledge? From the outset, it's clear that this isn't just another Depeche Mode/Kraftwerk disciple trying to do things differently. Thanks to live village recordings, things feel too raggedy. Though one might expect an abundance of drums, the focus is squarely melodic, with Mr K frequently layering multiple instances of the same instrument. In "The African Government," two kora harps duel furiously for attention, initially working in harmony before engulfing one another later on. With the bassline barely noticeable, it almost sounds akin to "Strings of Life" being covered by the local tribe. It's not all like this though. "Japan Japon," for example, sounds far more synthesised, with clubby kicks and delayed, xylophone-like percussion. "Himalaya" woos with sultry, electronic pads and a sparse bassline, later giving way to dissonant piano hits and subtle Africanesque drums. Though it's just a re-work of an earlier track, this may be the better version. Despite these deviations, however, Mr K never lets us forget which continent is the focus. "Africa" leads noisily with barely more than a wailing male chant, which is strongly reminiscent of the Muslim call to prayer. "Li Voi Rien" unfolds in a similar fashion, though this time the vocals are sweeter, and accompanied by a noodling guitar. While this will undoubtedly seem fresh to some, the best tracks—"Le Cercle Peul", "Le Triangle Peul" and the aforementioned "Himayala"—have been recycled from previous releases, and the rest aren't always imaginative. Additionally, though the limber rhythms are refreshing, the chaos occasionally gets too much, lurching into sloppiness. No, it's not a cheap melding of world music and techno; it's more sophisticated than that. At any rate, we're never subjected to anything approaching the crassness of Ian Oliver's "Bucovina." Rather, as the title suggests, the album is an uncomplicated glimpse into the split life of now German-based Mr Raoul K. It's just a pity it feels so naive.
  • Tracklist
      01. A Guinean Village 02. The African Government 03. Japan Japon 04. Africa 05. Himalaya (album edit) 06. Li Voi Rien 07. The Green Thing 08. Le Cercle Peul (club mix) 09. Le Triangle Peul (mdp mix) 10. Introducing My World 11. Rainning Love