Out of the many labels attached to Rainbow Arabia’s globe-trekking, kaleidoscopic dance music, the most concise term yet may be “Fourth World Pop” as they were recently dubbed by The Quietus (UK). The concept of “Fourth World”, credited to avant-garde trumpeter/Eno collaborator Jon Hassell, refers to a style of music employing modern technological treatments and influenced by various cultures and eras. While one may be painting part of the picture in describing their sound with any number of long-winded, hyphenated tags (tropical ethno-electro, world-beat new wave, etc), The Portland Mercury recently hit the nail on the head, “Spin a globe, extend your finger, and let it fall where it may. Chances are—unless your digit landed in the ocean—your finger will rest on a swath of land that influences Rainbow Arabia”.”
With peers like High Places, Pit Er Pat, Gang Gang Dance, and Lucky Dragons who also incorporate these processes and influences into their music, clearly Rainbow Arabia is not alone in exploring Hassell’s concept. However, add in catchy hooks and melodies with an embrace of slick production sheen and you have the “pop” element that differentiates Rainbow Arabia among their fellow contemporary “Fourth World” explorers.
Inspired by the purchase of a Lebanese Casio that played microtonal scales and Arabic beats, Rainbow Arabia’a propulsive first effort The Basta EP showed a lot of promise blending bossa nova, electro-pop, goth/post-punk, and Middle Eastern music. The EP was quickly met with praise worldwide and the duo released the Omar K 7 ” on Merok Records shortly after. Digging deeper for inspiration from Sublime Frequencies compilations, early Factory/Mute catalogs, tribal rhythms, and tropical sounds, Rainbow Arabia released their follow-up EP Kabukimono in 2009.
Not only does immediately one notice the cleaner, more club-friendly production (courtesy of Pit Er Pat’s Butchy Fuego) but also a wider range of in the band’s color palette with dark, arabic disco/dancehall jams sitting alongside sunnier, pop songs with Caribbean and African vibes.
In the wake of great reviews for Kabukimono, Rainbow Arabia remained busy in 2009 remixing other artists, most notably on The Field remix EP which just recently came out on Kompakt (with Gold Panda and Walls). They also will be releasing a 7″ on IAMSOUND this spring 2010. In the meantime, they are finishing up songs for their first full-length due the second half of 2010.
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