the lexicon

a writing portfolio by Alexandra Savvides

Unkle Ho – Circus Maximus CD Launch (29.6.07)

leave a comment »

Unkle HoIt seems almost unfair to try and categorise Unkle Ho’s latest album Circus Maximus. Revelling in samples and sounds from all over the world, his second album is a coherent, delightful affair made all the more lush by the live musicians he employs. Taking cues from Ho’s hip-hop background, and dabbles in electronica, dub and downtempo beats, Circus Maximus is much more than the combination of these elements would first suggest.

Having produced the likes of Australian hip-hop outfit The Herd, Unkle Ho launched his second album to a highly receptive crowd at the Mandarin Club in Sydney. Before Ho took the stage, Inga Liljestrom and Cameron Undy proved a formidable combination with their delicate combination of vocals and double bass, enchanting the audience even through some amplification problems. The crowd steadily built until finally Ho and live collaborator Senator Jim emerged to kick things off with panache.

Starting with the infectious Big Bad Rag played alongside its video clip, it didn’t take long for everyone to start moving to Ho’s eclectic composition. A tune that wouldn’t be out of place in a 1920s dance hall, the song is layered with delicate instrumentation including double bass and trumpet, with a ragtime beat that climaxes in a clever vocal sample.

Ho introduced Hiroshi Waltz with an affectionate nod to his parents, who provided many of the samples for the song. It is certainly one of the prettiest moments on the album, starting with a crackling sample that immediately evokes a bygone era even when played against the backdrop of Ho’s perfectly timed, thoroughly modern beats. The exuberant live performance from all the musicians consistently matched the mood throughout the night.

Taking the gypsy aesthetic one step further on the album is the coupling of tracks Bermuda Rectangle and On My Way Home, sounding as if they could have been recorded in the back of a rollicking caravan somewhere in Eastern Europe. Mikelangelo’s vocal sounds as authentic as the time-wearied gypsy singer that you might imagine inspired the track. Jane Tyrrell’s sultry vocal on Bally Broad works beautifully when coupled with the Asian-influenced harp. At the heart of Unkle Ho’s talent is his ability to make distinct sounds from all over the world appear totally seamless, as if geographic distance is no boundary.

On a side note, be sure to check out Ho’s intricate cover art and design for the album – something that truly adds to the beauty of Circus Maximus in every way.

Published on The Program, 2 July 2007

Advertisements

Written by lexstatic

March 17, 2008 at 6:12 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: