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Fun>da>mental - There shall be love! (Nation)

This could have been a very badly-timed release. Fun>da>mental's usual blend of polemical anti-imperialist raps, hardcore electronics and world music elements would probably have gone down like a lead balloon in the wake of Sept. 11. Fortunately for the band, Aki Nawaz has taken a different tack with this release. Gone are the uncompromising raps, instead, the world musics that previously formed the background of the band's sound are brought to the fore.

But this is, in no way, a compromise, rather it is a celebration of diversity and co-operation, a more positive outlook, as evidenced by the title. In fact, its message of the need for love and understanding between different cultures is just what the world needs to hear at the moment.

The concept of the album is most similar to the Afro-Celt Soundsystem, taking authentic slices of traditional music and adding an up-to-date electronic/techno backing. However, in the main it's Asian music that are matched to Aki's hard-hitting soundscapes, Indian and Pakistani traditions in a new context that updates without destroying it. It provides a far more interesting and enjoyable taste of Asian sounds than the clichéd sounds of Bollywood ever have.

Also in the mix are different sounds from around the world, including gospel in the opening bars, a South African choir, a Bengali vocalist and a Tucan Throat band. However, they aren't quite as interesting or as illuminating as the oft-ignored Asian styles. This is an absolute revelation, a refreshing slice of sounds that are rarely, if ever, offered outside of their native lands.

Donnacha DeLong

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