Badawi: Carolyn "Honeychild" Coleman (vocals); Raz Mesinai (flute, piano, percussion); Marc Ribot (guitar); Doug Wieselman (clarinet); Shahzad Ismaily (bass); Ben Perowsky (drums, percussion).
Fans of modern dub and experimental electronica may know the Israeli-born Raz Mesinai mainly for his work (with John Ward) as one half of Sub Dub, an influential duo of the late 1990s. Sub Dub was lots of fun, but it is on his, own under the Badawi moniker, that Mesinai has taken the most chances and pushed hardest at the boundaries that separate musical genres. A percussionist trained in a number of Middle Eastern styles, Mesinai brings together an impressive roster of New York's downtown scenesters to create a fascinating -- if not always completely successful -- pastiche of dark moods and heavyweight rhythms. At its best, the result is both mysterious and viscerally compelling -- note "Enter the Tomb Raider," a duet between distorted bass and complex percussion, and "Enter the False Prophets," on which Mesinai and vocalist Carolyn Honeychild Coleman flirt heavily with roots reggae. At its worst (the one-chord guitar-and-percussion wankery of "Battle Cry") the music is a slender reed on which Mesinai tries to hang a self-consciously heavy mood of woo-woo mysticism. But this album succeeds more often than it fails, and is well worth hearing. ~ Rick Anderson