Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Music Review: M.I.A., Kala

Artist: M.I.A.
Album: Kala
Find it under: Electronica (iTunes $7.99!!!), Pop/Rock (Best Buy- $7.99!!!! I'm not kidding!)
Sounds like: nothing you've ever heard

This, my friends, is probably the best album I have ever owned. And YES, I DID purchase it unlike some folks who choose NOT to support their favorite artists by STEALing music. (Andrew!!)

That said, I am new to this "music reviewer" position (and I'm no musician myself) so forgive me if I don't make historical musical references and know what key a particular song is in.

Looking at the album cover, you'd think this album was a 1980s release. Looking at M.I.A. (aka Maya Arulpragasam), you'd think she was a mental patient let loose at the local second hand store. In 1983. In Africa.

She is a British-born Sri Lankan which may explain the ultra-diversity and lack of monotony throughout the album. This artist is the antithesis of Coldplay.... totally upbeat, every song is diiferent and original, she uses her voice to make cool sounds as well as to sing and rap. Just when you think the song may be losing its momentum, BOOM!- here comes another hot beat or hook or vocal from M.I.A.- totally amazing. It makes you want to dance (even if you're not a dancer), but you're not really sure how to move your body.... exactly.....

Although this may be found in the electronica section of your local music store, I'm not sure I totally agree with that genre. When I think of "electronica," I think of Prodigy, Paul Oakenfold, Radiohead or maybe Bjork- but not really M.I.A. since her music doesn't seem to be centered on the industrial/robotic/distorted sounds that machines produce for artists like Radiohead. The sounds from this album SOUND like actual instruments and human vocal chords. I don't believe this album can be classified as "Trance," "House," "Techno," "Breakbeat," "Jungle," "Hardcore" or "Downtempo." (Those are the subgenres for Electronica.... No joke. I looked it up.) Again, the extent of my "electronica" selections include only the aforementioned artists....which means I am defintitely not an expert.

The problem I see with "genres" is that people tend to dislike ENTIRE genres because they have heard limited music from it and they didn't like what they heard- even if it was 20 years ago that they heard it. Even I am guilty of this crime. I HATE country music. I absolutely DESPISE it. It gives me a headache and it makes me cranky. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Then, one day I heard and album while dining at a restaurant and I had to have it. After I fell in love with that album (much like I have with Kala) I bought the artist's previous albums.... I found out after my purchases that one of them was considered "Country." I would like to note here that the "Country" album from this artist is my least favorite, but I believe that most of the traits that I associate with country music are not present on that album, except for maybe two borderline-twangy songs. All I'm saying here is that I think you should give M.I.A. a listen even if you dislike "Electronica." Please?

"Electronic Music" from Wikipedia:
"Electronic music refers to music that emphasizes the use of electronic musical instruments or electronic music technology as a central aspect of the sound of the music....almost all recorded music today, and the majority of live music performances, depends on extensive use of electronics. Today, the term electronic music serves to differentiate music that uses electronics as its focal point or inspiration, from music that uses electronics mainly in service of creating an intended production that may have some electronic elements in the sound but does not focus upon them."

Fine. Electronica then. But if this is truly Electronica, I believe a new sub-genre has been born.

Try listening to her while running or working out. I swear she made me run faster!! The best $8 you'll ever spend.

PS- I love that I bought this album on my 30th birthday. You know how listening to certain albums take you back to a time a in your life? Maybe that summer after 9th grade? The time you were dating so-and-so? Or that trip to ____? Well this period in time (that will forever be associated with Kala) happens to be a really good one that I will have great memories of.... being 30 is fabulous!

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At 10:37 PM, September 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't steal music. Music can't be stolen.


At 1:19 PM, November 15, 2007, Blogger nicole said...

Tonight! At the Roseland!! You are not cool unless you are there....

At 10:49 AM, November 17, 2007, Blogger nicole said...

I saw M.I.A. in concert on Thursday night. She came out in a captain's hat and those big dark sunglasses that she is wearing some of her album photos. She was also wearing a baggy red t-shirt and the most ridiculous spadex pants I have ever seen- pink leopard print with purple spirals wrapping around the legs. Her new blue Converse All-Stars were so white that I'm betting the tour bus made a stop at the shoe store on the way to the venue.

It was a truly amazing show. The screen behind the stage had some very engrossing and nutty images and was entertainment in itself.... She is one of the most amazing artists I know of.

The DJ was fabulous and M.I.A. even did some of her own "jockeying" (musical and imagery) with a separate computer station next to the main DJ's.

She was thoroughly engaging to the crowd. (As far as musical performances go, this becoming more and more rare.) During one of the songs, she brought up about 20 fans on stage who danced with her. She even climbed up on the tallest speakers and climbed onto the balcony during another song. During the encore, she broughht her own camera out on stage and took digital polaroid-like photos and threw them into the crowd. (I WANT one of those cameras!)

My only negative critique: she could have done without her female sidekick who was supposed to be backup vocals (which most of the time was unnecessary and out of tune) and was kinda dancing around the whole time, distracting us from M.I.A. herself. Oh, and she had crap for memorabilia. If you are going to sell t-shirts, OFFER women's fits and/or sizes!!

If you have a chance to see her in concert, do it. It's worth every penny.


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