Per usual lately, I’m outta my league with this, Natacha Atlas’ fourth and latest, Ayeshteni. Perhaps I should’ve paid more attention in my Afro-pop class back in college, but I really couldn’t elaborate on the non-Western elements of Atlas’ music to save my life. However, I can tell you this much: Atlas creates the most exotic, otherworldly sounds money can buy. Not too much a vertical progression from her previous work as it is a horizontal one, Ayeshteni posits the Brussels-born/Arabic-bred vocalist at the forefront of trip-hop • not necessarily semantically as the term is otherwise afforded to progenitors Massive Attack and Portishead (or similarly, lesser hacks like Hooverphonic or T.H.C.), but rather in the sense that, for as danceable as it is, the album’s pretty damn surreally narcotic, her not-of-this-world voice being the foremost signifier of this fact. So, to restate the obvious, Natacha Atlas is an idiom unto herself, one of the few enigmas left in modern music, Western or otherwise, Ayeshteni standing as ground-zero for unearthing the wealth of treasures in her voice and music.
Beggars Banquet, 580 Broadway, Suite 1004, New York, NY 10012; http://www.mantrarecordings.com