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August 9, 1995

Deep Forest

Deep ForestDeep Forest, Boheme (550 Music/Epic 1995) - The French duo of Michael Sanchez and Eric Mouquet - the creative entity known as Deep Forest - extend their musical adventure into a mysterious and alluring territory on Boheme. With melodies and rhythms that range from Middle Eastern to Middle European to the Far East, Boheme is a treasure of ethnic music dressed in a dancebeat package.

Deep Forest's self-titled debut album (which boasts of strong Japanese and Eastern influences) was released in the U.S. in April 1993, and is a worldwide hit: gold-plus in both the U.S. and Britain, double platinum in Australia, a best-seller throughout Europe and Japan, and a Grammy award nominee.

Marta SebestyenIn the follow-up, Sanchez and Mouquet traveled to Translyvania (no kidding!), where they found the quicksilver voice of Marta Sebestyen, who is best known in the West as the lead singer for the Hungarian traditional group, Muzsikas, with whom she has released three U.S. albums.

After experimenting with samples of her voice, Sanchez and Mouquet brought Marta from her home in Budapest to Lille, France to record new renditions of traditional melodies. Marta's lovely vocals were then submitted to Deep Forest's splicing, editing and sequencing techniques.

Boheme is a "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a wide sense, including gypsy songs, echoes of Inuit (Eskimo), Mongolian, and Balinese voices to produce post-techno, post-ambient dance music.

Deep ForestThere's no easy way to describe this music, as it blends a huge variety of ethnic and world beat music. Highlights include the lovely "Marta's Song" (which was heard on the soundtrack to Robert Altman's Pret a Porter), which features Marta's haunting voice and an invigorating string section, and "Freedom Cry," which opens with an African-style vocal introduction before proceeding to a jaunty, accordion-driven melody.

Boheme is different and unique. Fans of world beat and tribal music (including last year's great Moroccan release from Khaled) will love this disc.

Willie NelsonWillie Nelson, Just One Love (Justice Records 1995) - The amazing renaissance of Willie Nelson continues in full flower. Since his rebirth on 1992's Across the Borderline (a wonderful album), Willie's found a new vitality and strength.

That sense of freedom and creativity continues on Just One Love. Backed by a well-honed working band, the 12 cuts on this disc (all covers) show Willie at his best: rich-voiced, calm, and with a perfect sense of delivery.

Just One Love was produced by Grady Martin, and recorded at Pedernales Studios in Spicewood, Texas. Willie's band includes Mike Leach on bass, Buddy Emmons on steel guitar, Lisa Jones on hammered dulcimer, and Grandpa Jones on banjo.

Willie strikes a perfect balance between country and pop on Just One Love: just enough acoustic guitar and pedal steel to sound country, but not too much twang to be pop.

Willie's voice is the most amazing part of the album. Despite all of his trials and tribulations, Willie sounds as good as ever. Highlights include the uptempo "It's a Sin," the slow-down ballad, "Four Walls," and Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold, Heart."

Willie and Kimmie RhodesIn addition, a new find, Kimmie Rhodes, joins Willie on two duets: the title track, and "I Just Drove By." This pair could go far, as Kimmie's gentle country voice matches perfectly against Willie's gravely tenor.

Willie's main problem has always been selection of material: With the right songs, he's great. With the wrong songs, he's boring.

Fortunately, Just One Love finds Willie with 35 minutes of perfectly-matched material. Like a comfortable pair of shoes, Willie Nelson never lets you down. Welcome home this wayward son.

Cake -- Sacramento's Cake will be at Club Fred on Thursday, August 17th. Cake has one of the strongest debut albums this year; with their muted delivery, quirky songs (especially the great, "I Bombed Korea"), and horn section, they're reminiscent of Love's seminal work. This could be one of the best local shows of the year. For something truly alternative, catch Cake at Fred's.

-- Randy Krbechek

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