Masala describes the m?lange of spices that flavors Indian cooking,
but it also sums up the allure of Joi's Asian dance-floor fusion.
Theirs is the sound of the Empire striking back as the English kids
of Asian immigrants grab the controls of contemporary electronica
and blend sitars with snarling guitars, and dholak drums
with breakbeats. The results don't get much better than Asian
Vibes, with its irresistible chorus, as Susheela Raman's voice
soars over propulsive grooves that owe as much to the late Nusrat
Fateh Ali Khan (whom Joi remixed on the Star Rise compilation) as
to the electronic dance culture with whom Joi's members grew up.
Occasionally, when the machines threaten to take control, one could
be fooled into thinking that the tracks originated in Detroit or
Frankfurt. Then a slinky melodic filigree emerges, drawing a
straight line between premillennial recording studio and ancient
ragas. The sound of Joi, as one of their titles would have it,
truly deserves the accolade massive.FromEscape(December 1999). Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues)
from Box 462255, Escondido, CA 92046.