Conrad Praetzel: Receive

pra-r.jpg (13k) Conrad Praetzel: Receive
(Paleo Music - 1998)

The liner notes call Receive "An East/West Blend of Spirit and Groove"; after hearing the newest from Conrad Praetzel, I can't argue with that description. Without being unctuous or overbearing, these uplifting pieces truly do achieve their aspirations. This may be filed under World, or even New Age, rather than Ambient, but fans of well-produced musical conglomerations of assorted ethnicity and style will find a lot to like here.

To back his own synth and percussion constructions, Praetzel has gathered some considerable forces for this outing; vocalist Sukhawat Ali Khan, who also records on the City of Tribes label, emits a style reminiscent of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; nimble fingered Robert Powell plays electric, wawa, dobro, slide and pedal steel guitars, multi-instrumentalist Solomon Feldthouse provides ethnic flair; and Sachiko Kanenobu contributes her vocal powers.

Backed by a mid-tempo rhythm, Devi features Khan's agile vocals, crooning softly, sometimes switching to an ear-opening wail... (not understanding the language, his words are without direct meaning, yet very expressive). A spirited street-sermon by the Prophet Omega (and later, brief Geisha vocals) is merged with smoothly groovy world electronics in I Am What I Am, a lovely example of "spiritual-ethno-electro-funk". More subdued, and beautifully mixed, Tarana rides on soft multi-vocals (occasionally including Khan's skywardly twirling cries) backed by pattering ethnic percussion and lulling guitar.

Down on the bayou, sinuous string sounds slide up and down Ropes and Ladders, with Robert Powell adding swampy dobro and electric slide guitar, backed by Praetzel's light electronic/percussive accompaniment. An ominous background drone drapes a darker mood over the Eternal Wife (7:37), but not oppressively so. Sprightly guitar and vocal utterances from Ali Khan liven the affair while ney flute and oud and an air of exoticism. Ferryman (2:13) keyboard effects from Conrad solo, ending a truly bizarre multiple-ripple effect.

Trickling keyboardings and lightly rollicking beats are overridden by Khan's passionately acrobatic wails in Jogan, and lifted by Feldthouse's airy flute passages. A quieter mood awaits with Elder Days, where Sachiko>'s Oriental vocals add further flavoring to Khan's gleeful choruses and Praetzel's unobtrusive accompaniment. A wispily electric opening becomes a soft, synthesized pastoral stroll with Fish That Walk on Land. Part medieval paean, part synth frippery... though quite a lovely little tune as such. This closing track is revived from an earlier work by Praetzel.

The colorful packaging reflects the cheery musical moods within. Conrad Praetzel and friends have concocted a spiritually awakening and globally extending stew of sound with no cheesy aftertaste . While not ambient as such, Receive receives an 8.4 for excellence in craftsmanship and purity in emotion. Conrad tells me a website is forthcoming; I'll keep you posted. 8-4.gif
This review posted May 26, 1999

AmbiEntrance © 1999-97 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).