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Title: Songs From The Victorious City

Songs From The Victorious City (China LP/Cassette/CD)

THE FORMER knob-twiddler with Art Of Noise and Killing Joke’s mainman and all-round nutter have become musical Livingstones and scoured The Dark Continent for something to prop up their floundering careers. Well, the idea of Westerners exploiting Third World sounds to authenticate themselves is nothing new, but this is actually a rather good LP.

Any prejudices one harboured against these pilferers - and there are many - are overwhelmed by the sumptuousness of this enterprise. Recorded in Cairo and pieced together in London, ‘Victorious City’ has Egyptian artists lovingly recreating their homeland’s melodies in freeform jams with Anne’s computers and Jaz’ hitherto unexplored prowess at violin and cobra pipes. The motifs are classical - most songs feature sweeping strings - but without the attendant musical snobbery.

In many ways this is what Ambient House should sound like. The opening ‘Awakening’ is just perfect for that Sunday afternoon feeling and is the closest they come to the actual source music. Other tracks are more interested in fusion - mixing cod-Arabic grooves and sub-disco beats with the Eastern stylings on display. Heck, ‘A Survivor’s Tale’ even samples an old Frankie Goes To Hollywood rhythm – proof that this is not an entirely sombre venture.

Musical purists-especially World Music curators - will baulk at the shameless pop element but I’d like to think this is their saving grace. ‘Victorious City’ is something to challenge even the most jaded mind. Just goes to show first impressions aren’t always right. (7)

Dele Fadele