CD Review of Global Drum Project by Mickey Hart & Zakir Hussain
Recommended if you like
Grateful Dead, Thievery Corporation, Sound Tribe Sector Nine
Shout! Factory
Mickey Hart & Zakir Hussain:
Global Drum Project

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

In the beginning was the noise… and that noise begat rhythm, and rhythm begat everything else.” So reads the quote on the album’s liner notes that sets the tone for the latest percussion project from the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and his pals. (Not to be confused with “Mickey Hart and Friends,” his touring band this summer with Steve Kimock on guitar and George Porter Jr. on bass.)

Hart has assembled an all-star team of percussion maestros here, with Zakir Hussain, Sikuru Adepoju (on talking drum and part of Hart’s Rhythm Devils tour in 2006) and Giovanni Hidalgo (Latin percussion) headlining the cast. It’s a smorgasbord of polyrhythmic beats blended with a variety of other instruments and digital technologies to deliver a platter of groovy jams. Most of the album sounds like it could have come from one of the exploratory “Drums” segments the Dead was famous for putting in every show during the ‘80s and ‘90s. If you’re into that, you’ll love this album.

“Baba” kicks things off with a danceable beat announcing a serious percussion project. “Kaluli Groove” and “Funky Zena” offer a more atmospheric vibe with some spacey guitar on the former and some trippy percussion coming from more esoteric instruments on the latter. “Under One Groove” starts out with another ambient vibe, but builds into another danceable jam. “Dances with Wood” is all up-tempo percussion that gets the heart racing. “Heartspace” adds some strings for more melody, and some vocals in foreign languages. The vibe remains spacey. “Tars” is another purely percussive track that sets the stage for the album’s epic closer.

The showpiece track is the final cut, “I Can Tell You More,” where Hart delves into some neo-shamanistic territory that might appeal to fans of late, great ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna and the like. Hart delivers some spoken word philosophical musings over a jam that builds slowly and surely into a tranced-out, hypnotic groove that conjures ancient and/or alternative realities. “This is where the muse lives,” says Hart, invoking the nether world between creativity’s nebulous higher realms and our own linear world.

There’s not a lot of new ground being broken here, but fans of instrumental world beat music will be hard-pressed to find a more talented collection of pros doing their thing.

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