CD Reviews

Published on June 29th, 2007 | by admin

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Unkle Ho – Circus Maximus

(Elefant Traks/ Inertia)

I was quite taken aback by Unkle Ho’s Circus Maximus. I’d had a particularly bad day, and my brain wasn’t handling music that was familiar to me. So I was surprised to hear this album, a cruisy harmonic cacophony of genres.

It’s quite difficult to aptly describe Circus Maximus, which when you find out more about the musician himself makes a little sense. The album, in the best way I can gather, sounds like something that you would hear on a strangely coloured Eastern European bus – modern world music painstakingly recreated by a gypsy band in polka and jazz.

But the fact is that Unkle Ho, a Sydney native, has produced a record that contains sweet traditional rhythms, backed by instruments such as double bass, clarinets, harps and violin, all of which are spliced with unassuming samples that, rather than being the focus, are subtly melded into the melodies of each song.

Uncle Ho is probably best known for his work as producer and founding member of Aussie hip hop highwaymen, The Herd, but has also had a successful solo release under his belt leading up to Circus Maximus (Roads to Roma, 2005).

He has created something very likable, albeit a little too subtle. Bar Chutzpah has a driving beat with clarinet taking the lead, a veritable beats meet polka, while the soothing slower tempo of Balley Broad, featuring Jane Tyrell’s silky vocals, cuts a ‘smoky lounge bar’ feeling to it. Spaghetti Eastern reveals a hint of humour and On My Way Home is helped home by underground vocalist Mikelangelo.

Circus Maximus is relaxed and takes your senses into the back of that hidden bar that you love, sipping your favourite beer. Unkle Ho creates a sweet blend of electronic sampling meeting live action musicianship. In four words – so very, very cool.

Circus Maximus will be officially release through Elefant Traks on June 29 at the Mandarin Club, Sydney.


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