Green Isac crosses the highly popular Electronic dance energy with the traditional world elements of the west-African grooves from Gambia, layered with Asian textures and minimalist structural influences, inspired by composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. This outstanding new work features sophisticated electronic grooves, crafted textures and treatments, constrained melodic motifs, west-African drum grooves, wordless vocals, and a wide array of acoustic and percussion instruments. Green Isac is where ethnic percussion meets vintage synths, where bowed strings meet pottery.
Green Isac is a Norwegian-based duo. The flavor here is electronica, featuring keyboard, guitars and flute of Morten Lund and the very Aramaic/African influenced percussions of Andreas Eriksen. This is the second CD from this group, their first being ‘Groundrush’.
The form of this electronica is to influence the listener with the rhythms while overlaying a minimal amount of fill and melody. Added to this base are some vocals and sounds to further emphasize and suggest ‘traditional’ African and Arabic flavors. This is all expertly executed on this CD, providing the listener with a very energizing and enjoyable production.
There are thirteen tracks on this CD, ranging from 45 seconds to over six minutes. This is a Spotted Peccary Music release, and is up to the usual high standards we have come to expect from this music company.
Outstanding tracks on this CD include ‘Siamese Drum’, a very Asian feeling piece, pulsating, rhythmic and almost hypnotizing, an excellent example of the style of this group and how they have mastered their sound. Also ‘Dr. Talk’s Bagpipe’ which is more Aramaic in feel but again, presents the listener with the same pulsating and rhythmic beats and traditional feel.
Giving more of the ‘electronic’ angle to the CD are tracks like ‘Black Hands, White Skin’ and ‘Subman’, and the excellent track ‘Tubesontoo’ all feature drumming but also highlight the excellent ability of Morten Lund to execute superb electronic surfaces for the drumming to glide upon.
Tracks like ‘Adm. Bulctow’ and ‘Ambino’ have a funk and groove electronic feel to them, and present us with yet another variation in style that is generously peppered with the percussion style of Andreas Eriksen. Again, well performed and outstanding in my mind.
Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the work of Green Isac, and to the abilities of Both Morten Lund and Andreas Eriksen. A must have in your world music collection.- Margaret Foster, Ambient Visions
The Norwegian duo of Andreas Eriksen and Morten Lund records a strange but very attractive fusion of electronic and ethnic music under the name Green Isac. This is their second album, and the ‘etno’ aspect of their sound still comes across as something of a put-on, a gloss of exoticism designed to give their understated techno funk a marketable veneer of multiculturalism. What saves the music from its own pretensions is its good-natured warmth and its genuine, quiet richness. On ‘Siamese Drum’ guest vocalist Anneli Drecker (of fellow Scandinavian etherealist rockers Bel Canto) sings wordlessly through an electronic treatment that makes her sound like Jon Hassell's trumpet; on ‘Adm. Bulctow,’ a swinging rhythm is layered over a straight one, to very cool effect, while a darkly clangorous and funky guitar hints at trouble down below. ‘New Shoes’ is something of a dreary letdown, a combination of sounds from Enigma and the Twin Peaks soundtrack, but overall Etnotronica does a very good job of adding up to more than the sum of its parts. Highly recommended.- Rick Anderson, AllMusic.com
Any new Green Isac recording is cause for rejoice, except amongst the few who’ve yet to fall under their spell. Too bad, because this engaging Norwegian duo have been spinning their fourth-world yarns as long as ‘fourth-world’ has been tagged a legit ‘genre.’ These chaps go way back, farther back than most would think, back to the early 90s in fact, when their debut Strings And Pottery came upon the scene to mostly vast indifference save for this writer, who exalted its many virtues in this magazine’s foolscap precursor back in that epochal 1990 moment. The impact of a disc like Etnotronica (unpretentious, accurate, succinct title) is softer these days but no less satisfying: manipulating a wellspring of hand-forged percussives, flutes, shakers, cellos, varied programmed instrument loops and sundry other electronic paraphernalia, Green Isac seem at this point in history to be very of the moment. We need them and their multikulti takeover of the global village. From the African plasma beatstuffs of ‘Ahab’ and post-Jon Hassell urban jungle weirdness of ‘Man vs. Lion’ to the poignant guitar-pierced penumbra of ‘Ambino’ and tenth dimension backwards-masked rituals of ‘Zu-puls,’ Green Isac are practically required listening. They remind us that the wonders of the pan-cultural milieu needn’t be bastardized by Western colonialism; shuck off the skin, and the whole human condition all beats to the same drummer underneath. And they can bang on their drums all day as far as I’m concerned.- Darren Bergstein, e/i Magazine, installment 7
I doubt anyone is better at integrating dynamic rhythmic elements, played on a wide assortment of hand percussion, with modern day electronica than the duo Green Isac (Morten Lund and Andreas Eriksen). Etnotronica is serious fusion music, melding African rhythms and Asian textures with contemporary ambient and electronic music to yield what I'd describe as ‘cerebral funk.’ While their first release on Spotted Peccary, Groundrush, was exceedingly well done, Etnotronica literally jumps out of the speakers with a lively and unrestrained sense of kinetic energy and sultry melodic sensibility.
Highlighting the instrumentation on the album would fill half this review! Of note, though, is the contribution of guest vocalist Anneli Decker (the woman singer in the group Bel Canto) who graces the opening ‘Siamese Drum’ with her lovely talents woven among the assorted hand drums and flowing melodies. The midtempo beats are sensual in nature, as is the marriage of cello with Decker's haunting vocals. The next song actually sounds like it's from a Bel Canto album, containing some of the same characteristics of that group's music, e.g. the title track to their album Shimmering Warm and Bright. Tremolo-guitar, African flute, shaker, tambourine, and a few more instruments combine fluidly in an energetic yet moody number. Distorted ‘reversed’ radio broadcast streams lend a surreal air later on in the track.
Scattered here and there on the CD are short ‘interlude’ tracks of no more than 49 seconds, which serve to inject a moment of contrast, such as ‘Black Hands, White Skin’ which is a quiet and disquieting mixture of muted echoed piano and distant synth tones. Most of Etnotronica, though, is concerned with getting your feet moving in time with the impossible-to-ignore rhythms, such as the joyful framedrum on ‘Dr. Talk's Bagpipe’ a track that also features some tasty licks on slide guitar! It's also another song which echoes Bel Canto as well, namely their CD Magic Box.
Things can get somewhat subdued on the CD, even with the presence of heavy rhythms, such as on ‘Ambino’ which bounces a tribal djembe-rhythm against a somber and melancholy melody on cello and reversed-guitar. This song has a tangible sorrowful tint to it. ‘New Shoes’ also finds a way to incorporate darker ambient electronic shadows with shuffling beats but with the addition of well-layered deeply reverbed guitar so that this song has a ‘late-at-night wandering the back alleys of a city’ feel to it. ‘Tubesontoo’ closes out the recording in eerie fashion, opening with a stretch of soft grey ambiance and eventually folding in other musical elements and textures (such as e-bow and guitars), building toward a cinematic-like soundscape that, in contrast to most of the rest of the album, lacks overt rhythms until the immersion of contemporary glitch/trip-hop beats which ping-pong against whirly-gigging synths and pumping bass.
If you think the marriage of ethnic percussion to contemporary electronics has become passé, do yourself a huge favor and grab a hold of Etnotronica. Not only will your faith in brilliant and exciting music be restored, but you're bound to have a whopping great time as well. You can thank me later. This album rates an unqualified ‘highest recommendation’ from me!- Bill Binkelman, Wind and Wire
It was difficult choosing Green Isac as our first CD of the month for 2005. For one thing, it would mean three out of the last four CD of the Month selections would be by Norwegians! For another, the album actually came out in November. But the end of the year is always a heavy time for new releases and sometimes, great albums get lost in the shuffle or just don't hit us at the right time. That was the case with Green Isac's Etnotronica. Green Isac inhabits a quirky world of ambient music where charming melodies and arrangements fall somewhere between faux-exotica and the trash heap, a meeting ground of the Penguin Café Orchestra and Cluster. Etnotronica continues the sound the Norwegian duo began back in 1991, with pulsing ethno-percussive rhythms loops, global exotica and elliptical structures that keep folding back in on themselves. Engagingly guileless, Green Isac is as likely to pick up djembes and bongos as Moog bass and Fender Rhodes piano. Lap steel guitar meets yang-ch'in (Chinese hammered dulcimer) at a crossroads of African drums and electronic pulsations on ‘Dr. Talk's Bagpipe.’ What sets them apart from so many of their peers, who simply loop rhythms into drones of infinity, is a gift for the hook. Andreas Eriksen is a member of the electro-pop group Bel Canto and that melodic sensibility carries over to Green Isac. In fact, Bel Canto singer Anneli Drecker guests on ‘Siamese Drum,’ with some of her patented ecstatic wordless vocalese. Green Isac orchestrates an often haunting sound world, but instead of a wink, they've got a twinkle in their eyes.- John Diliberto, Echoes CD of the Month