Salman Gita and Jamuud are the two main members and songwriters of Loop Guru, an ambient/world-music collective that has been releasing albums for over a decade. Back in the day their original methodology was to select some tape loops, distort them to produce something new and then overlay them -with this approach being enhanced in recent years by the advent of affordable samplers.
But the greater freedom of samplers doesn’t guarantee greater quality – harnessing this flexibility in generative music requires significant skill, and Bathtime With shows Salman Gita and Jamuud to truly be gurus of that art. Many of the loops overlaid on Bathtime With are from wildly different genres of music, yet the Gurus distort and combine them seemingly effortlessly, and in a way that makes the album feel almost familiar on first listening despite being so unusual.
Of the nine album tracks Truffaut’s Hat, and the title track, Bathtime are the two that make the most immediate impression. Truffaut’s Hat’s rhythms and dynamic use of a jazz double bass riff has echoes of drum ‘n bass, and all this is pleasantly interleaved with two samples from the same source track – a string and a horn riff, one shivering and dark, the second smooth and euphoric.
The other immediate pleaser, Bathtime, contains what sounds like a couple of Europeans taking a bath and giggling and sighing in an unsexual but slightly disconcerting way, backed up by more delicious loops ripped from classical music, and all cohering into a strange yet compelling whole over metallic drums and bass.
It would be a pleasure to continue picking apart these carefully constructed tracks – for example Marble One and Promenade Sentimentale are also excellent combinations – the first exhibiting more of Loop Guru’s sense of organic unity, and the other impressing with a great vocal.
In the end though the most fascinating thing is not what makes up these tracks, but the fact the elements can be combined at all. It is also impressive how these nine tracks come together as an album, with the sense of togetherness aided by a common dub-bass thread running through many of them, as well as elements of playfulness and mystical meditation.
Interestingly, Bathtime With actually follows hot on the heels of a two-year swell of interest in world-music ambient and “Ibiza” ambient compilations. Yet this album is less focused on drumbeats and beach sunset soundtracks, and more on a search for original and meaningful compositions. Bathtime With is closer in spirit to Brian Eno than the dance floor, and is all the richer for it.