» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
XL Recordings

Rating: 9/10 ?

March 21, 2005
Arular finds Maya Arulpragasam at a creative zenith only accomplished by certain meticulous artists after years of great achievements in music and life. Considering this is her first full-length, the surprise is even greater. Very few people are able to seep into the middle ground and grasp critical acclaim around the world. M.I.A. did just that with an indispensable addition to the shelf of this year's greatest and most innovative records.

With a funky major nod to such languages as electro, hip-hop, world music and dancehall, this is a mildly debauched piece of art, while it remains cerebral enough for the musicologists out there. Maya runs a potent algorithm of creative forms and runs away from the pissing contest that seems to give strength to all hip-hoppers topping the charts. Arular is a disarming statement, an itchy needling soundwork, sometimes reminiscent of militiamen fighting for independence-driven purposes.

Indeed, born in London, Maya was rapidly moved back to her family's native Sri Lanka. Her father, always ready to support the Tamil moves to break free from the majority Sinhalese population, became more and more involved in the political cause and eventually formed the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students. Arular was his codename, and this record thus serves as some kind of tribute. The two rarely see each other, nor have they for most of her life.

Sometimes living without electricity or running water, and subject to the restrains of a civil war, Maya's family decided it was no longer safe to live in Sri Lanka, and moved again - first to India, then back to Sri Lanka and finally to London as refugees. This routine has obviously influenced the all-over-the-map approach that has been M.I.A.'s musical fingerprint, ever since she recorded her first demo tape: a six-song effort already containing the milestone, "Galang".

From the warfare-like chant that is "Pull Up the People," to the aforementioned, rhythm-soaked "Galang", Arular is groovier than a groove record, and it will make you drop your jaw and free as much space as you can to dance and jump. "Amazon" and "Hombre" sound like two strident growls in the jungle, shamelessly doused in Latin-inspired, multicoloured flavours. There's also that cut and paste feel, that glued process that penetrates most dancehall/electro records.

And that fact alone must have been part of the field notes she gathered while chronicling Elastica's American tour on video, as well as Maya's first introduction to the Roland MC-505 sequencing machine by electro's instantly recognized drag queen, Peaches. But keep in mind the fact this debut truly expands on their paradigms.

Here, Maya is doing her thing - and that thing sounds really, really soothing and barrier-crossing. This is a hell of a record.

Reviewed by Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other reviews by Helder Gomes



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