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Praful: One Day Deep

Michael Beaumont


One Day Deep

Label: N-Coded Music
US Release Date: 2003-07-15
UK Release Date: 2003-09-15

One Day Deep by German musician Praful (pronounced pra-fool) is a kind of hybrid world music, jazz, and electronica affair that manages to glide along in a smooth jazz kind of way that does nothing to offend, but simultaneously does nothing to distinguish itself either. Destined to be played in fusion restaurants around the globe, Praful's particular brand of down-tempo acid jazz has all the elements that make the genre a turn-off to both jazz aficionados and electronic fans alike. The problem being, it holds none of the extremes of either genre -- neither the skilled improvisations of the best jazz music, nor the far reaching sounds and beats of the premier electronic outfits. Thus, it is left blandly CHR.

Praful was born and raised in Germany and quickly became enchanted with the international music scene in Amsterdam, where he studied jazz, sax, and flute. In the early '90s he frequently traveled to Brazil and India, picking up on the native rhythms of those countries. Later, in the late '90s, Praful began soaking up the sounds of drum and bass, trip hop, and dance music, and actually formed an electronic outfit named Project 2000.

All of those influences and travels come into play on One Day Deep, where Praful makes use of such diverse instruments as tenor sax, Indian bamboo flute, djembe, moog, and congas. With a list like that, you no doubt get the idea. This is music to have on while cooking, or doing yoga, or decorating your apartment with items purchased at World Market. It is not, unfortunately, music that will stand the test of time or take a long residence in your record collection. Unfortunately, One Day Deep is destined to be purchased on a whim in some burst of "exploring my musical boundaries" foolishness and later left collecting dust with old Enigma and Deep Forest CDs.

That's not to say that Praful is without talent. He's just picked the wrong genre. The best moments on One Day Deep are those in which Praful gives himself over to a particular style. For instance, "Morphic Resonance" (no, I'm not joking, that's really the title) has a more electronic feel than most of the cuts here, and whereas most jazz/world music musicians are apt to use electronic effects simply to add a garnish to their music, Praful actually handles the sounds quite adeptly here, making the cut, despite its silly name, one of the more engaging on the album.

Later, on the lead-off single "Sigh", Praful adds guitar and Hammond organ to relatively effective use. "Sigh" also contains the most "silky-smooth" saxophone on the album. For the uninitiated, think Kenny G on one of those Ibiza chill-out compilations. However, the backing track is more-or-less effective as wah-wah guitar crescendos coalesce with a steady down-tempo beat.

The problem with reviewing an album like One Day Deep is that so little of it actually stands out. There aren't really any moments of note on the seventy-minute LP. It just kind of does its thing � for seventy minutes. Again, it is not music to be listened to with a critical ear, nor is it meant to acquire the whole of your attention. It is made, presumably, with the sole intent to add "color" to your surroundings. Background music. And outside of experimental affairs like Brian Eno's ambient works, there just isn't a lot of room for background music in the typical listener's collection, especially at the now-standard $17.99 a pop.

If you have a particular affinity for smooth jazz, or some forms of acid jazz, then One Day Deep may be worth a listen, but I would venture to guess that the album still won't strike you as anything special. And ultimately, that's the problem with Praful's music: in trying to incorporate so many musical elements, he winds up doing justice to none.

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