Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gonjasufi - A Sufi and a Killer

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2010-03-08

Sumach Ecks aka Gonjasufi, Warp's latest leftfield, otherworldly signing, is a reformed drug addict turned yoga teacher who splits his time between the Mojave Desert and LA. In the press and on websites, he's sometimes written of as an almost shamanic figure, something that will no doubt only be encouraged by a slew of mumbled self-help-style lyrics on this album, such as "It's your only life/ so take your own advice" on the densely rhythmic 'Advice'.

The desert shaman vibe is also expressed in the sheer freewheeling scope of this record, which takes in fuzzy folk, psychedelia, ethnic tourism, hip hop, scuzzy rock and ambient electronica. The influence of Brainfeeder producers Flying Lotus and The Gaslamp Killer means their signature sounds are all over the album like grubby fingerprints, from the crunchy beat and ambient hum of 'Ancestors' to the crackling, smoky soul of 'Change'. However, Gonjasufi confidently stretches his wings to explore various musical styles. The MIA-esque Bollywood hip hop of 'Kowboyz&Indians' is unexpected, as is the three chord Stooges garage rock of 'Suzie Q'.

There are a couple of elements that hamper one's enjoyment. Firstly, at 20 tracks, A Sufi and a Killer is just too long, with some tracks feeling elusive, like little more than sketches. Some tunes seem unfinished. For example, a promising track called 'Stardustin', which recalls the space rock of Hawkwind, fades out before it has barely begun. This formless feeling is not helped by Ecks' voice. At its best, as on the lovely, drifting 'Made', it has a bewitchingly dusty, spooky soul quality. It's this voice which we heard on 'Testament', the claustrophobic jazz-soul standout from Flying Lotus' 2008 album Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, quite often on A Sufi and a Killer, the voice that Ecks' uses sounds more like a wasted wino attempting a Captain Beefheart impression. It's a gurgling, off-key wail made even less palatable by the fuzzed-up effect applied to Ecks' voice for most of the album. It makes some great tunes, for example 'Suzie Q' and 'Holidays', quite hard to listen to. Still, with its ceaseless genre-hopping, A Sufi and a Killer is a tremendously brave record. As for Ecks' voice: a classic example of 'less is more'.

Richard Morris

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