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Hot Today!
Hot Today!
Sweat drop from face and soaks the ground
Bathe in cool salt wind in from the ocean
Melt the chains of day yet paid run free
Laughing Torchlight, cooklight, smoke of motion
Don't be Late don't be late don't be late

Sometimes, music is intimate. Truly intimate. The pressure releases, the tightness in your chest vanishes as quickly as it came. You can even breathe for a moment.

You might even stagger around the room with your headphones off, if you can scramble from the seat. Yes, sometimes music is truly intimate - and that's an experience people are too seldom challenged by.

Daboa's "From The Gekko" is just that.

Forgive me, it's not often I put the punchline verdict in the first paragraph. I probably have a lot of explaining to do, and more than already primed for disappointment. So, we'll begin looking at this little collection of songs, one of those audiophile moments of glory, an album music nerds really can get up on a table and claim to have enjoyed as if it means something. From the efforts of Frank Harris and Maria Marquez comes Daboa's From the Gekko - a rather accomplished effort from two long-time collaborators.

Music. It goes about it's business in many an underhanded and unexpected way/ One might point to the rise of synthetic media as the greatest example of this; crowing on about music created out of time, out of place. We all know this refrain - that said music is just 'constructed' and has no meaning or talent. Anyone (stated as if we all have innate musical talents) could 'do' it. I react predictably negatively to this kind of self-serving instrument-driven solipsistic bullshit, as I would expect most people to - which is why this album is so very indulgent for me. Not only is it aesthetically brilliant while so surprisingly .... genuine, it was assembled by the pen-and-paper equivalent of two underpaid interns who had been churning out editorial comics for a left-wing newsletter nobody gave two shots south of the border about. Take this album and wield it as a compact and beautiful bludgeon against all who believe you cannot create in your very own commercial studio / bedroom / attic / garage shed.

Did I mention this is a folk music record? Probably not. From the get go ... the 'sound' - not music, but 'sound' can leave a listener in awe. For the project of two people in a minor studio, it has a tremendous kick; clever and succinct, grand and subtle, all at once. That flexible duality applies to much more than the sound, however ... which leads me into another tangent.

Kill someone even. Or their dreams. This album is the goddamn Tardis of commercial studio recordings. From the opening minute of the first track 'Canton De Pilon", you know this album has bass - and twang. The crescendo of noise increases in tune with an image of women at work on pounding meal, and the album starts to come alive. In one track, in one experience - this album becomes enormous, as so very TINY as the premise originally appeared to be, a motif that sustains the entire album. There's subtlety, moments where you know the studio trickery went a mite too far, mistakes and glory, while you sit enthralled, uncaring. "Studio Trickery" doesn't seem like a fair comment at all - the experience is definitely achieved through studio editing, but there's an absolute sincerity to the music. There are no distractions or moments which take away from the experience of the album itself, and in that respect the production is naught but a success, uncovering new and thoroughly enjoyable details upon each new listen.

From the Gekko does a remarkable job of advancing the argument that yes ... sometimes those synthesizers and studio tricks are necessary for the best album possible. One listen to Jakarta's relentless chime, the beguilingly exotic vocals of Maria Marquez present on Mi Paris or Bein green, even the enthusiastically triumphant energy My New shoes or Ethnocity, and you might well be on board with me here. Every bit of this is delivered in what might well be described as a 'wave' of sound approach - the wall of power is there, but the delivery is genius. There are momentary lapses in intensity that are felt with such realism, ever so sharp strikes and slaps - you never quite feel like the album is letting up, but each moment has it's own texture and pattern. Joyously, there are few if any moments where the impact of the soundscapes at play ever feel the same. "Don't be Late" is the perfect epitome of this - a joyously enthralling celebration of equal parts energy and relaxation, built around some deceptively clever vocals. A truly astouding piece, on an album of standouts.

Each and every song manages that pleasing combination of continuity and uniqueness, it's identity both as a single track and part of one very complete album. Again the significance of the attention to detail strikes home - bird calls in Canton De Pilon, the rhythmic tapping of a Gamelan alongside Frank and Maria's vocals on "Shadowed Eyes". Rocks in a stream, subtly influencing the direction of each and every track, giving Jarkarta's enormous, almost suffocating depth and grandeur along with jazz instrumentation, Don't Be Late's relaxed album-closing melodies ... much can be written that is better experienced. The end result is an album that demands repeated listening on two levels; to enjoy each individual song as an experience, to be reminded that this is a genuine album as much as it is a collection of individually strong melodies. The fulfilling presence of duality raises itself once more as a result. From the Gekko remains so incredibly easy to relax with, it enjoy ... and yet the passion and complexity in crafting requires a focused ear to really appreciate.

I would like to think I understand how little tolerance an ardent audiophile has for the 'plastic' album. An album that claims to connect with the suffering of the exploited that is few more than a pastiche of soundbytes and reference to cliche, children crying. "Latin" influences played with all the passion and meaning of a tripartite of session musicians over a forgotten drumskin we'd all presumed to forgive and forget. The implications are obvious - if anyone can 'create' music without playing an instrument, the resultant shame leaving all who endure with a lingering sense of disappointment. Yet, repeated listens of this album will leave you with no such pretense, the album has a genuine sort of oneness. One might say that your suspension of disbelief is not only preserved but enhanced by all the content, be it gamelan samples, Maria Marquez's references to Venezuluan and Mexican Sensibilities, the pop-rock synthesizers that Frank Harris chooses to add at points, or even the recordings of what I believe is the Dalai Lama. It is esoteric, and dangerous - but works. Somehow.

Escapism in music is one of those attributes award to a truly exceptional album, one that awards us genuine satisfaction. These triumphs should attack and challenge, our imagination, our senses - aesthetic intelligence in which we are at our peak receptively, when we are truly awake and alive. One can be be challenged by this album at pace which is both comfortable and exciting. The essence feels staggeringly authentic despite the purely studio origins, the music consistently engaging and varied, esoteric and beguiling. You will hear the jungle, and the world - and you will be presiding over a deep sense of satisfaction should you possess top quality audio gear that it has been appreciated here. For those who are into visual stimulation, I contest that you might receive quite a kick out of (ha!) kick-ing back in a comfortable chair with eyes closed and seeing where From The Gekko takes you. The rain sticks, chieftains, Dalai Llama's and Guitar comes together in a gloriously rich little piece of music. Indulgent, even.

Fundamentally, this one of the finest albums I possess, one that I would of course recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in folk, or music in general. It is difficult to imagine that most listeners out there will not be held to an aural account by the detailed and consistent songwriting, or the over-arching strength of the instrumentation and album quality. It seems there is always involved in Folk Music those whom want to create a 'real' experience can all to often find the fruits of their labour as a contrived and 'fake' product. Daboa's From the Gekko is anything but fake, in both intent and execution and should be far more appropriated and respected than it is. Above all else this album is a celebration of limits in Folk Music and what can be done by two very motivated and talented people in a studio.

And by 'celebration' of limits, I of course mean to wholeheartedly ignore them.
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