Azure Miles Records ~ The Music of Michael Robinson
Writings About Music by Michael Robinson
Bhimpalasi (Part 2 of 3) review by Mark Keresman
allaboutjazz.com - June 21, 2002
This Robinson fellow is a jazz-influenced electronic/world composer, in the sub-strata of the world music and electronic genres where he utilizes technology to evoke and manipulate ethnic sounds and elements. (Similar artists would/could include Robert Rich, Lustmord, Deep Forest, Popul Vuh, Forrest Fang and even Weather Report circa their Black Market disc). In his case, the "ethnic" sounds are Indian ragas, yet this is definitely NOT a cheesy "Switched-On Raga" type of "accessible" thing. Robinson has absorbed the principles and essence(s) of the raga form and uses them as a point of departure for his compositions (the "jazz" side of his nature, no doubt) - he doesn’t try to "simulate" Indian ragas with electronic means.
What Robinson does on the platter in question is produce an hour-long soothing yet engaging tapestry of sound that captures the meditative, mood/mind-altering aspect of the raga form while having a heartbeat-like pulse throughout. Please don’t be put off by that word "soothing" - the sole piece here "Jor & Jhala" has heart and intelligence, though the latter is definitely of the sub-conscious, intuitive variety. Best of all, Bhimpalasi, while suitably enigmatic, sounds natural, as opposed to similar projects that can come across as self-consciously difficult and/or labored. You don’t necessarily have to be a scholar of Indian classical music to get into this stuff, nor is this some New Age-y or Ambient bland-out. But those that enjoy so-called New Age or Ambient genres, as well as those into "world jazz" and cross-cultural fusion will very likely find this to be well-worth seeking out.