Have you heard the one about the Russian, the American and the Swedish-born Chilean/Brazilian? No, I thought as much. I hadn’t either, until reading the story of One Self, a combination of artists almost unthinkable in Cold War days, now refreshingly easy to secure.
Children Of Possibility is a weighty title, yet pertinent in the time of Band Aid‘s resurrection. It was chosen by Vadim Peare, better known as Ninja stalwart DJ Vadim, the creative lynchpin behind the project. That’s not to undervalue the other two contributors, however – MC Blu Rum 13 (the American) and the multinational Yarah Bravo are long time collaborators, picked by Vadim after he noted their contrasting styles.
As you might think, these disparate elements reflect themselves in the music. Although it majors towards hip hop, Vadim thinks nothing of bringing other cultures to the table – Indian, African and what sounds like an Eastern European harmonic language among them. There is a total lack of posturing on behalf of the two vocalists, who bounce off each other with ease as they move between speech and song, bringing simplicity out of the complex arrangements.
In keeping with the title the music has a primitive quality, best illustrated in the single Be Your Own, which opens with an extraordinary, pygmy-like vocal, and Hollow Human Beings, where a guitar-like instrument begins with exotically spread chords before leading to the most Westernised of choruses, the refrain “to the brink” staying in the head. Meanwhile, Paranoid is just that – edgy, nervy strings accompanying Blu Rum’s rap and adding fraught tremolos by way of punctuation.
Repeated listening reveals some lyrical gems, too, and none more so than Temptation’s warning shots, or the refrain to Be Your Own which sees both vocalists murmuring “I don’t want you to be mine, I just want you to be your own”.
Occasionally the music sprawls somewhat – SD2 in particular seems unsure of its direction half way through, unexpectedly moving into a chant section. Vadim even chances his luck with an extended Shakuhachi flute solo on Over Exposed, a technique that in lesser hands could fall horribly flat, but manages not to here.
These slight misgivings shouldn’t take anything away from the whole, however, as Children Of Possibility is a profound, thought provoking and involving listen. Try it several times and it will start to nag at you, question you and get under your skin.