fri 31/10/2014

CD: Deep Forest - Deep Africa | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Deep Forest - Deep Africa

Afro-new age fluff from the successful mainstream chill out unit

Deep Forest's logo burns bright over the mysterious continent

Deep Forest have sold in the region of 10 million albums. That’s a shocker, isn’t it? Then again we’ve probably all heard them at some point, burbling away in an incense-saturated shop selling mass-imported batiks, carvings, hammocks and knickknacks from Thailand. And anyone who’s undergone massage at their local tie-dye emporium will undoubtedly have been subjected to them. Deep Forest are anonymous but inescapable.

There used to be two of them until 2005 but, nowadays, Deep Forest consists solely of French recording studio hippy Eric Mouquet. Twenty years ago they broke into the then new chill-out market by combining world music with wibbly-wobbly, post-club stoner electronica. Alongside Enigma and Enya, they became masters of patchouli-niffing cod-ethereal noodle and actually had a top 10 hit with “Sweet Lullaby”. Unlike contemporaneous acts such as Banco de Gaia and Transglobal Underground, however, who dabbled in similar waters, they’d never actually been to the rave from which they appeared to be floating down. And that was unfortunately obvious from their music. It still is.

Following 2008’s Deep Brasil, Mouquet has gathered a respectable cast of musicians and singers from South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Ivory Coast and the Congo. They inject pizzazz and sunshine but the sub-“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” keys, jazz-lite saxophone, pan pipes and flutes are never far away. One song, “Dub Africa”, momentarily pulls a tacky dubstep pastiche but it doesn’t last long. The whole thing is calculatedly inoffensive, with syrupy synthesiser smoothness and the occasional lyric such as “How long it takes, how many years, how long to save the world?”

Those especially interested in global roots music will likely take issue with the album’s bastardisation of African sounds. I have no such issues with authenticity but the overall tone of nutrition-free soothing is far from the balm for the senses it thinks it is.

 Watch a teaser video for Deep Africa

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