In the last few months I have been inundated with middle eastern-influenced material, whether it be Reza or the new Jon Hassell album. Raquy and the Cavemen’s “Jordan” album is another album that can be categorized as such, and the fusion track that opens up the disc “Graovsko” mixes progressive rock to the ancient forms of music that come out. The only problem about “Graovsko” is the incredibly long track-length that starts off the disc (5:05), which is coupled with a certain monotony and repetitiveness that may turn more people off than keep people listening. This repetition really is a boon during “Dueling Darbukas”, a track that allows the band’s dumbek players to really shine. The martial sound of these small bongo-like drums really are all that is needed to make a solid track, as this is essentially all that compromises the track.
The same Spartan nature that really allowed “Dueling Darbukas” to shine is not repeatable in “Riq Samai”, which is a track on “Jordan” that just does not have a complete feeling to it – the low end is just not represented in any meaningful way. “Nubian” comes through as a nice middle-ground between the rock and traditional sound, more of an indicator of this fusion that “Graovsko” was. The increasing tempo and differing rhythms present on “Nubian” will allow for listeners to get into a serious groove. The interesting thing about Raquy and the Cavemen is that they in no way have a vocal presence during a majority of the songs on “Jordan” (even lacking an instrument to mimic the human voice), and in that sense this is one of the only truly instrumental albums I have ever heard.
Raquy and the Cavemen would seem to many to have a very specific fanbase with the style of music that they play, but the fact is that the structure of the music laid down on “Jordan” is comparable to what passes as “popular” music. This is different and yet holds a few things the same, and the accessibility of this album is perhaps “Jordan’s” strongest suit. The increasing pitch and scope of “Shashkin” perhaps has to be the most memorable moment on the disc; as bad as it sounds to say, the track feels like it could be an incidental piece of music from any Bond movie that has a Middle Eastern scene to it, it is that good.
Top Tracks: Shashkin, Dueling Darbukas
Raquy and the Cavemen – Jordan / 2005 Meef / 15 Tracks / http://www.raquy.com/cavemen / Reviewed 21 May 2005