A New Day: Laya Project Remixed

A New Day: Laya Project Remixed

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A little background first. After the devastating December 2004 tsunami struck South Asia, Earthsync — a world music enterprise based in South India — sent a crew of field recordists and film makers into areas of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, The Maldives, Myanmar and India. They recorded songs that reflected the folk traditions as the people of the region struggled to rebuild their lives. The result was Laya. Laya, while quite remarkable, is not the focus of this review. Five years after Laya, urban musicians approached the project as a remix. The finished product, two CDs named Embrace and Union, is just absolutely fantastic.

Artists featured include Pitch Black, Shaman’s Dream, DJ Pathaan and the Bhaki Brothers featuring MC Yogi. “Glorious Sun” – which includes a hip hop set of instructions for the Sun Salutation yoga sequence by MC Yogi – is hands down my favorite track. It is infectiously danceable, wonderfully listenable and in fact was something I played through the darkest days around the winter solstice to turn my thoughts to the sun’s return.

Another favorite is the Dimm Summer remix of “Rain Buddha,” which begins with soft chanting and gives way to an ecstatic dance groove. And bouncy rhythms featured in “Sunset in Akkarai” (Desert Dwellers Dance Remix) seemingly have the ability to propel the listener right into a good mood.

But what is most cheering about this 2-CD set is how, with the assistance of urban DJs, the traditional cultural music of extremely remote villages can be enjoyed by a worldwide audience. This hope and resilience conveyed here of the survivors of the Asian tsunami is truly a celebration.

The juxtaposition of regional folk tunes with the electronic remix creates an audio patchwork quilt of vastly different colors that, together, simply works. Not to be missed.

Review by Diane Saarinen

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