One of the more overlooked releases from the latter part of last year, All Is Fair is music created by classically-trained musicians that's not stuffy at all. Using mostly Indian percussive instruments (including the pakhawaj, tabla, ghatam, and others), and violin and double bass, the quartet of Gojogo has created an album that floats somewhere in between modern and traditional, playing things mostly straight while augmenting a couple tracks with horns, guitar, and even electronics.
The opening section of the album is easily the best, and after a short introduction track of violin and viola, "Tezeta" follows and is flat-out stunning. The track introduces a more playful rhythm with the double bass and indian percussion while the graceful violin melody is at times playful and at other times more melancholy. "Puppets" continues the strong batch of tracks with a long violin/bass intro before some polyrhythmic percussion slides in alongside nicely and moves things forward more briskly.
About halfway through, it seems that the group might derail themselves a bit by straying too much from their more standard sounds. "All Is Fair In Love And War" brings some rather distorted guitar into a track that's much more aggressive, but just about the time you think it's going to go over the top, the track dissolves into silence and a slinky, jazz-inspired second half takes form. The unfortunately-titled "Yangsta" brings some sampled loops into the mix and although they add another unique layer to the groups sound, the track itself just doesn't seem as strong until some more second-half redemption.
Fortunately, the album closes out strongly, with the standout being the nine-minute "Aviary." With only sparse violin playing, the track goes to town rhythmically, with some extended sections that really highlight the unique sounds of the Indian percussive instruments. Although it has a few freshman flaws, All Is Fair is nonetheless a great debut that's a little bit different than everything else out there.