World Fusion Radio
What the future sounds like
|Origins:||U.S., North Africa, Middle East|
|Styles:||Arabica, Turkish, ambient - dark, world groove, lounge, Balkan, neo-folk, ethno techno|
Jef Stott has launched three successful world fusion projects. The first was the group Stellamara, the second was Lumin, the third his recently launched solo career. A San Francisco-based virtuoso of various string instruments, Stott studied under Hamza El Din and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. Throughout his career he has explored Eastern European, North African, and Middle Eastern music.
Often compared to Dead Can Dance, Stellamara combined medieval, Middle Eastern, and gothic themes. The result was a dreamy, slightly spooky, ethereal sound that avoided the Dead Can Dance’s occasional corniness. Stott teamed up with vocalist Sonia Drakulich on the first release, Star of the Sea (Stellamara is stylized Latin for the same) which won critical acclaim and a cult following from the RenFest/SCA crowd. Technically wonderful and great material for music history classes, the album was strictly ambient and lugubrious – good music to get a massage by – but was criticized as immature and overly clinical. The 2005 Stellamara release, the heavily soporific The Seven Valleys, did not include Jef Stott; Drakulich teamed up with Gari Hegedus who added more Middle Eastern influences – ironically the same direction Stott took in his next project, Lumin.
Stott teamed up with acid jazz musician Michael Emenau, and Kazakhstan-born singer Irina Mikhailova, to form Lumin. The Lumn formula was similar to the original Stellamara but with more energy. Electronics and psychedelic sensibilities were added and the music keyed up the listener rather than calmed them. The first Lumin CD, Datura, in 1998 remains tragically virtually unknown. That was the year the world fusion revolution truly began and Stott picked up on it and incorporated it in the next Lumin release, Hadra in 2002. Hadra took the evolution a step further, some songs entering techno territory. Hadra was stunning in its primal almost savage power ,still grounded in traditional melodies but showing a maturity and inventiveness not seen in Stellamara. Though more popular, Hadra still is sadly underexposed. Lumin did produce a third CD, Ketri, released by the indie Japanese label Dakini Records (label of electro-ambient DJ Makyo) but pretty much unavailable in North America.
Jef Stott Solo
While Stott remained relatively unknown to the public, his fame grew among world fusion musicians.,producing records by the Tunisian-born MC Rai and the Persian fusion group Somma, among others. He signed with Six Degrees Records and released SoukSonik, an EP, in 2007 part of Six Degrees' digital-only Emerging Artists series. Six Degrees brought Stott the exposure he so long deserved. SoukSonik is a blend of Middle Eastern and North African instruments and rhythms with modern dance music, its only flaw its being only six tracks long. That was quickly remedied by the full-length release of all new material, Saracen. In this CD Stott fulfills all of his promise with a powerful blast of North African energy. The first six tracks are a continual crescendo that explodes in the track “Axis (Evolve)” with MC Rai singing in what should become a world fusion club classic. Regardless of tempo, the tracks on Saracen are clean and crisp displaying Stott’s mastery of percussion, strings, and electronics. 2012 saw his release Arcana which continues his evolution into hard-edged, dance-oriented North African fusion.