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Album Review

When a producer/musician says that he/she is into fusing world music and electronica, it could mean a variety of things. There are many different types of electronica — everything from techno, trance, and tribal to trip-hop — and world music ranges from Celtic jigs and reels to Mexican mariachi to African pop. In the case of Digital Bled's Caravana, world/electronica fusion usually means a trip-hop/Arabic/Indian hybrid. João Pedro Veloso Rodrigues, the Portuguese producer/musician who is the brains behind Digital Bled, has some South American and Portuguese influences. One of the instruments that is used on this intriguing CD is the berimbau, a traditional string instrument that has often been heard in Afro-Brazilian settings. But while the South American and Portuguese influences on Caravana are quite subtle, the Arabic and Indian influences are impossible to miss. Caravana gets a little inspiration from South America — namely Brazil — but it gets a great deal of inspiration from the Arabic world (both the Middle East and North Africa) as well as India. If you equate Caravana with a traveling caravan, you could say that Pedro's musical caravan briefly visits Brazil and Portugal briefly but spends a lot more time in places like Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan. Pedro does not pretend to be a Middle Eastern, North African, or Indian traditionalist; he is not an Indian classical player like Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan, and he is not a traditional Turkish saz virtuoso à la Talip Özkan. Rather, this CD offers an intriguing East/West hybrid — this album has one foot in the East and the other in the West. Caravana is slightly uneven; some of the tunes are more successful than others. But most of the time, Pedro's experimentation pays off on this chance-taking release.


Formed: 24 October 1959 in Estoril, Portugal

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Digital Bled is the brainchild of João Pedro Veloso Rodrigues, a Portuguese producer/musician/DJ who has lived in Paris since the '70s. The Paris resident, who often goes by DJ Pedro, favors an intriguing, highly percussive blend of electronica (especially trip-hop) and world music. Digital Bled has some subtle South American influences -- namely Afro-Brazilian -- as well as occasional hints of Portuguese music, but its experiments owe a lot more to the Middle East, North Africa, and India. Pedro's...
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Caravana, Digital Bled
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