|Andre Afram Asmar debuted on Mush in 2003 with Racetothebottom, an album that people noticed for its eclectic mix of hip hop dub, Middle Eastern, and Latin American music. He tried to put together another album, but battled a debilitating aneurysm. It was a tragic setback, but he persevered. After years of hard work, Asmar finally has his follow-up record.|
Harmonic Emergency starts with the same ingredients that Racetothebottom used. Asmar’s preference is to work with live musicians, and then apply dub and hip hop production techniques to develop the final product. On these sessions, Asmar enlisted the help of legendary dub musicians Ras Michael and Fully Fullwood, along with musicians from all over the world. The result is a style of music that one would probably label “world fusion,” if it wasn’t for the stigma that phrase had attached to it. The fact of the matter, though, is that Asmar himself is a Palestinian American who grew up in L.A., surrounded by hip hop. As he developed as a musician, he became very interested in dub. It was only natural that his music was going to find a meeting place for all of these influences to come together.
As for the dub influence on this album, I know a lot of people either love it or hate it. Most people who don’t care for it usually don’t have the patience for it. With Asmar, there is obviously love for the genre, but he’s mixing in so many other musical elements and constantly shifting gears that I believe that this album should have a much broader appeal. Asmar understandably felt a sense of urgency when working on this album, and when it came time to mix it, he enlisted the help of Antimc. The two of them worked to not have the album sound as drugged out and dreamy as most dub records are.
I’m glad that Asmar is back making records. People usually cringe at the thought of fusion because it brings up all sorts of images of cheesy acts with a sort of cultural tourism going on. With Asmar, it’s a case of someone growing up in a multicultural environment and picking up different elements that he discovered as he explored his love of music. This is an album that is made from love of life and all it has to offer. It’s not a hard-hitting album and requires a certain amount of patience, but it’s worth it. Asmar is a great producer and songwriter, and I’m glad he’s finally made it back. - Scratched Vinyl