S.E.V.A. - S.E.V.A.
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S.E.V.A. (which stands for Spirit Evolves Via Awareness) is the production duo of Matthew "Mumbles" Fowler and Dahvin "Gone Beyond" Bugas. "Mumbles" Fowler is best known for his Book Of Human Understanding album with Aceylaone, and it was after that project that he decided to travel around the world studying religion, philosophy, and meditation. S.E.V.A. is the musical project result of those travels and exposures to different cultures and music, and as one might guess given the names of those involved, it's instrumental hip-hop with a world music flair.

In twelve tracks and just over forty-five minutes the group treks from spoken-word intro to polyrhythmic grooves that mix everything from jazz to almost tribal rhythms. In fact, the album starts basically as stated above, with a short, spoken discourse by Swami Akshara before shuffling into "Event Horizon," which blends plucked strings with turntable-scratched polyrhythms on everything from tablas to straight-up drumming and even drifts into a closing wakka-chikka section that features some disco funk and organ melodies. Other tracks are more straightforward, as "Suspended Animation" mingles harp melodies with a chunky beat while "Stonehenge" mixes middle-eastern melodies alongside dense layers of traditional drumming.

With portions of the proceeds from sales of the album going to charitable causes, it's hard to find a lot of fault with the release, but overall many of the tracks sound like instrumental hip-hop that has been done by others to date. The duo is at their best when they pile on loads of obscure rhythms that are obviously not of an American origin. Although these are usually the same tracks that also tend to get a smidge muddy in their excecution, they're also the ones that veer the furthest from the inocuous tracks that sound like they're treading the same territory as others in the same genre have already done. As far as instrumental hip-hop albums go, you could do much worse (especially if you're looking to just zone out to repetitive, mid-tempo grooves), but it also falls into the same trap as many other releases in the same genre by substituting endless looping for track development.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2005-07-21 00:00:00