Rima: This World

Maurice Bottomley


This World

Label: Jazzanova
US Release Date: 2003-05-20
UK Release Date: 2003-05-19

Domu (Dominic Stanton) is from London and has been building up a solid CV as a DJ and producer within broken-beat and similarly fashionable circles. Voclov (Enrico Criveliaro) is Italian with a comparable career profile but with a reputation as more of a techno man. Together they are Rima and have put together a very JCR sort of album. Nujazz, broken beats, deep house, soul, jazz-funk, and fusion all mingle cleverly, if somewhat too neatly, and indeed the album could be seen as personifying the strengths and weaknesses of the whole nujazz phenomenon.

The strengths of nujazz (in the hands of Jazzanova, Truby, et al.) are a healthy eclecticism and a laid-back contemporaneity that has proved most welcome in this increasingly formulaic, jagged, and repetitive phase of club-based music. Genre-boundaries have come crashing down while musicianship and a new cooler sensibility have been re-valorised. However, NJ has in some instances become very safe, smug, and (in the case of the unfortunately named Nojazz) close to self-parody. A backlash (led by the excellent jazz critic Kevin LeGendre) is under way and Rima might seem an obvious target.

The weaknesses of nujazz, and hence this album, might be said to be (using LeGendre's critical framework) a lack of adventure, minimal attempts at improvisation and a lazy reliance on digital rhythms. A more mundane complaint would simply state that everything is a little bland and boring. Nujazz is generally rather short on passion and emotional extremes. Taken together the charge is that nujazz is essentially the club-generation's version of smooth jazz and its perceived failings, vis-à-vis proper jazz or proper "black" dance music, are often critically indistinguishable.

Given that this set is suitably sophisticated and knowing, that it flows along nicely and combines a traditional fusion-based aesthetic with digital rhythms that coax rather than bludgeon you into submission, then this is nujazz as charged. Nor is it the most aggressive thing you'll hear, even in the rarefied world of the West London scene. However, it is most certainly not insipid. Detractors will seize on its lack of fieriness, but should give it a proper hearing and not confuse poise with lack of purpose.

Where I think Rima rise above the common herd and thus escape some pertinent criticisms is in their choice of performers and their prime sources of inspiration. The former factor is unproblematic; any album that features Julie Dexter and Mark De Clive-Lowe is going to be of interest to followers of soulful dance music. The second is rather stranger. Despite its new millennial digitalism, the most successful tracks are really jazz-fusion grooves. If there are guardian angels behind Rima then they are George Duke and, particularly, Azymuth. This will, as you can imagine, confirm the nu-equals-smooth charge, but I think it gives the set musical and historical depth.

For all the duo's broken-beat and techno credentials, the outstanding numbers are those like the sprightly Braziliana of "O Vento Dira" or the cool, keyboard-led vibes of Mark De Clive-Lowe's "Rivers". Even better are the sax-led assuredness of "Vidigal", courtesy of Collective Unconscious, and the soulful urbanity of Julie Dexter (on the very sensuous "Let It Go"). Forget some of the album's more arty "European" aspects (and some dodgy "pop" vocals), and enjoy several engaging fusion work-outs that would sit well in any Patrick Forge or Ross Allen set, past or present.

If you are expecting ground-breaking electronica, look elsewhere. If you want daring improvisatory leaps, try another genre. If you want some mellow, soulboy jazz-funk with a tasteful 21st century re-rub, then Rima have much to offer. The production is crisp, uncluttered yet sufficiently inventive, and there is an equal focus on tunefulness and rhythmic drive. It is not particularly deep; indeed, within this genre, it is refreshingly light-hearted. When old and new combine fully, the resultant sounds encapsulate the many pleasures of cafe bar and club-life at their most relaxed and, as such, are worth an hour of anyone's time.





A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.