Soki2u - Dancing through the Needle's Eye

by Dan MacIntosh

Soki2u may be a large collective of musicians, gathered from many different places on the globe, but what unifies this diverse group of artists is its creativity. The act's latest release, Dancing Through The Needle's Eye -- mostly tracked in London -- opens with one called "Did You See," which is performed by singer/songwriter Sygnet and sounds a little like "Fade Into Me" by Mazzy Star in places that is, of course, if Mazzy Star wasn't so fuzzy-druggy. While this track is a lovely recording, it's the only one like it on the disc, which is not a bad thing. The rest of this release is just as good, only for a wide variety of different reasons.

Another highlight is "Basho in Three," which sports an Enya-esque layered vocal track with lyrics borrowed from a 16th century haiku by Matsuo Basho, a Japanese poet. It's performed by Gila Chaya, who also added a few of her own lyrics of her own. "Mathilda," like "Basho in Three" ought to appeal to new age music fans assuming, of course, 'new age' is even an active music genre term anymore yet for altogether separate factors. Unlike "Basho in Three," "Mathilda" has no vocals at all, but is a moody instrumental by French soundtrack composer David Floc'hlay. It's the sort of arrangement that conjures up a tense scene in some spooky mystery movie. Derek Schuurman proves to have the same gift for entering into the mystic, as he starts off "Don't Play Dare with Me" with some similar walking-on-pins-and-needles musical tension, before infusing the track with dance music percussion. Sarah K. Panton gives this song the perfect spy girl vocal.

Austrian Mart Giebner provides the more folk-ish, stripped down contributions to this compilation. "Another Coffee" is a quiet, acoustic guitar-backed song with an upbeat rhythm. "Cambodia" utilizes a similar acoustic guitar-driven approach, although his styling on the latter leans slightly closer to jazz. The track's lyric was inspired by The Killing Fields, one of the most chilling, true story movies about a tragic example of modern day genocide. These historical facts are mixed in with Giebner's travels in the region, to create a very personalized perspective on the exotic region.

One titled "Everything OK?" combines many of this album's various diverse elements into its mix. Broken down into three parts, it features compositions from a trio of separate artists. Burn provides "Under Control" as part one; David Floc'hlay pitches in part two, which he's named "Echo," while Derek Schuurman, who had the smart idea to put these three compatible works together, rounds out the piece with "Time's Running Out." This triune combo platter, if you will, includes Australian didgeridoo (I think), ethereal vocals and a little dirty guitar and all in one package.

There isn't very much that you would call straight ahead rock & roll on this release, although "August" by South African singer/songwriter/guitarist Charl Jean Bouwer has some alternative rock-like electric guitar underpinning it. You could also say Derek Schuurman's "Your House" has a driving rock beat. It sounds a little like something off of Neil Young's experimental electronic-infused album, Trans.

Another album highlight is "London Smoke," sung by Gila Chaya. Unlike "Basho in Three," however, Chaya gets to sing it with a straight ahead vocal, which has just a touch of jazz running through it.

"Intro (to the Blood Candle Demos)" is one of this set's stranger tracks. Charl Jean Bouwer talks/sings it over a creepy instrumental track. Kalkulus' "Tangent (Stent Remix)" sits well right next to Bouwer's spoken wordy inclusion, with its equally freaky electronics.

One titled "Close Your Eyes," with instrumentation from Nigel Homer and vocal melody & words by Sygnet, is a warm and friendly way to wrap up the album. It's a thoughtful meditation that mixes unobtrusive electronic elements with real piano. With all the experimentation preceding it on this project, this very 'normal' piece actually sounds a little unusual.

With Dancing through the Needle's Eye Soki2u has once again created a winning modern music smorgasbord. You may not salivate over every flavor, but it's nearly guaranteed that you won't leave the dinner table hungry.

Soki2u - Dancing through the Needle's Eye

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