As Loop Guru so impressively proves, you don't necessarily have to be a skilled musician to span the musical globe, but it helps to have a wandering spirit and a working knowledge of studio toys. Other than sprinkles of human-generated percussion and bass, the only actual person, per se, in evidence on Loop Guru's latest release, Amitra, is Inda Goldfinger (every member has an oddball pseudonym), whose trance-inducing wail alternates with looped, prerecorded temple and jungle chants. But it's the boundless technical imagination of the outfit's founding members Salmon Gita and Jamuud that powers Loop Guru's cultural Cuisinart. Scouring the ethnic archives of Second and Third World countries for their snippets of inspiration, the pair essentially joins the most remote corners of the globe to an urban hip-hop rhythm, dressing up primitive strains, if you will, for a sophisticated night on the town. In the process, they've run into accusations of cultural looting. But as Gita has said, "the history of music is thievery," and Loop Guru does a better job covering its tracks than most sample-happy explorers.
Gita and Jamuud's first tangible collaborations resulted in the singles "Mrabet" and "Paradigm Shuffle," in 1992 and '93, respectively. By the time a third single, "Sus-san-tics," was released to critical applause, Loop Guru had assembled material for a full-length release. That 1994 CD, Duniya, reached number four on the U.K. indie charts. But the group remains a cultish delicacy in America, and the hard-to-define Amitra should keep it that way for now.
Atypical of studio artists, Loop Guru has their road show down to a visceral science (minus Jamuud, who shies away from touring). So those expecting a tentative, subdued experience be forewarned: you're in for a full-body experience. Just about anything goes, and the pulsing beats, dancing beams of light and seductive collage of organic and man-made sounds provoke movement of an extreme and exceedingly devout nature. One British journalist called it voodoo. But I'd be inclined to describe Loop Guru's live essence as a good deal closer to Heaven than that.
-- Hobart Rowland
Loop Guru opens for Meat Beat Manifesto Monday, September 16, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer. Tickets are $12. Doors open at 8 p.m. For info, call 629-3700.
New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars -- It figures that a New Orleans version of a klezmer band would bear as thin a resemblance to old-country Yiddish minstrels as Charlie Parker's music bore to plantation work songs. When you compose most of your own material -- as the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars do -- and are immersed in the R&B, jazz and brass of the Crescent City, coming up with music that's just this side of mainstream is probably inevitable. Not that the stream the All-Stars fish in is all that main to begin with, though klezmer music, rooted in centuries-old Yiddish tradition, has undergone a resurgence in the U.S. over the past decade. Attracted by its complex structures and hard-core party attitude, a new breed of young players has embraced klezmer and juiced it with whatever local elements fit. In the All-Stars' case, those elements include grunge, Latin, free jazz, reggae, roots rock and even classical. A jazzed electric guitar tops the mix, horns twist snakily around the tunes and decidedly funky drumming adds color to the Eastern European melodies. This is why the All-Stars are as comfortable -- and appreciated -- at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival as they are at a Jewish wedding. At the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, at 9 p.m. Thursday, September 12. Tickets are $5. 869-COOL. (Bob Burtman)
The Zydeco Dots -- Note that the name is no longer "Pierre and the Zydeco Dots." After losing yet another Pierre, the Dots have decided to turn for their frontman to Little Jabo, a young Fifth Ward native who's the scion of longtime balladeer and accordion player Prince Jabo. Prince had his son whaling away on the drum kit over at the Continental Ballroom when the youth was still a teenager -- which is to say, just a few years ago. It wasn't long before Little Jabo picked up the accordion and gave the bandleader a break, singing the classic French and English songs of Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco in a rich young voice while his dad looked on with pride. A year or so on the kit with Paul Richard and the Zydeco Rockers followed, and in Houston's small, close-knit community of traditional zydeco performers, word spread quickly about the younger Jabo. Guitarist and founding Zydeco Dot Tom Potter reports that the latest lineup will be working as the Zydeco Dots Featuring Little Jabo, and that the latest and youngest windjammer of the band's long history was a member of the team from the moment he came aboard. That's not surprising. After all, Little Jabo grew up with this stuff. At Jax Grill, 1613 Shepherd, at 7 p.m. Friday, September 13. Free. 861-5529. (Jim Sherman