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Rara Avis

Shaktified EP 1

(Six Degrees; US: 2 Jan 2007; UK: Unavailable)

According to Six Degrees, Rara Avis is an “Emerging Artist”, implying something fresh, something new. Instead, the guitarist and laptopper’s download-only EP, Shaktified EP 1, sounds dated. Nearly every element here feels canned, from the Enigma-inspired synth swells perfectly tailored for a yoga studio soundtrack, to the ‘90s Gaia trance beats, to the super-slick guitar licks. The lead track, “Medicine (Full Length Version)”, encapsulates all of the aforementioned offenses and adds clumsily delayed vocal samples to an already pretty dorky track. “Jumanic Rapture” is a nice enough cut, ambient and inoffensive. “Post Burn Syndrome” is the worst offender, drifting perilously close at times to light jazz. Its minor-keyed meditations save the track from sinking into Muzak, but barely. Closer “Yesterday” takes an odd turn, moving into a laid-back ditty of acoustic guitar and vocals, like Jack Johnson with a simple drum machine backing. It’s hardly groundbreaking, but quite pleasant, and more soulful than all of the post-New Age sequencing-plus-noodling that came before. If Avis were moving in this direction, then his “emerging” might be more auspicious. Mostly, though, Shaktified EP 1 is too predictable to recommend.

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Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.


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