Real-life married couple and make-believe werewolf shop-crashers Tiffany and Daniel Preston, who comprise Rainbow Arabia, are based in LA, but their music spans the spooky expanses of this over-warmed ozone-choked globe. Most prominently, Tiffany’s vocal lines tend to come oil-drenched and wailing from the Middle East, while the percussion and other tidbits of electronic mayhem rounding out the soundfield are a dark (but undeniably bouncy) who’s who of global fusion motifs.
On their second mini-album Kabukimono, the duo turn in only five new songs and a Ghosts On Tape Remix of the riotous Omar K (that of the bizarre music video) from their first EP, 2008’s The Basta. The whole thing clocks in at just over 21 minutes, but this isn’t really something to complain about. If anything, Rainbow Arabia avoid the all too enticing allure of settling into a groove and flogging it to the ground while the dancers pant from exhaustion.
Instead Kabukimono is a nicely contained, controlled burn of an album, and throughout its length, Rainbow Arabia expand on their previous work, managing to sound at once fresh, but somehow welcomingly familiar. It’s impossible not to compare Tiffany Preston’s vocal approach (which is alternately bubbly cute and brutally caustic) to M.I.A., if in a more accessible and less politically charged re-imagining.
Album opener Holiday In Congo bounces through a jungle of pounding drums and slinking guitars. It’s a vacationer’s romp, at once calling up visions of brightly coloured plumage and tougher to define feelings of impending doom. Haunted Hall lets the Arabian influence rip, romping at a sweaty slow half-time pace.
The title track brings in a too-hyped-for-its-own-good octave shredding synth bass line the just barely escapes sounding like Figurine‘s New Mate.� Harlem Sunrise is the clear standout track in the collection, opening with a distinctly urban vibe, before transmogrifying itself with no warning into a kettle-drum beachscape which calls up bodies in the sand and tropical drinks melting in your hand (to paraphrase the Beach Boys, who played this same game so well).
Kabukimono does a fantastic job of accomplishing its singular vision, even if it’s ultimately an album that doesn’t quite succeed in outliving its runtime. But certainly it bears repeated listens, and there’ll be some new facet to discover in each revisiting; any one of these tracks would stand out as a high point on that playlist you’re making for next weekend’s party.