A friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous went through a phase when she was about 17 where she was very into Mickey Hart (the drummer for The Grateful Dead). She had his book, Drumming at Edge of Magic and was obsessed not so much with Hart’s connections to the popular touring hippy band but to his interest in world rhythms and his ability to express his passion and enthusiasm for all forms of percussion.
If you have a friend going through a similar phase, pass along local percussionist River Guerguerian‘s Grooves for Odd Times: Modern World Percussion. The album is due out in 2012, but you can check out some samples here.
At first listen, the album is a world music junket. It’s more foot-tappable than outright danceable — though, listening to it, it’s easy to imagine a classical-meets-futuristic Indian dance performance, or something very innovative and modern. “Twenty Three Beats,” for example, has a spooky skeleton dance feel and make a great choice for some Heather Malloy choreography.
In the liner notes, Guerguerian explains that Grooves spans five years and consists of compositional concepts like lyrical percussion, abstract tone arrangement and aural landscape. So, this is no mere background track for coffee shops and book stores. It’s music with a basis in science and mathematics.
Each of the 11 tracks represent different beat cycles. The thick, molasses-dark, “She Walked In” is “30 (subdivided 7+8+7+8) & 14 beat cycles.” The songs also offer an education in percussive instrumentation, with a recipe list for each track. “Ten For You” has “four tuned frame drums, cajon, kanjira, drumset, bamboo, shakers, stringed dotar, cumbus oud, piano, wood, djembe, muted gongs, doumbek.” Other tracks like “Seven Tambourines” and “Overture” use percussive vocalizations where Guerguerian sings the drum sounds.
Keep a watch for Grooves to drop next year. Learn more about Guerguerian and his various projects here.