So what does one do with the term “World Music”? Does it, for example, include any sounds performed by persons haling from the West Midlands, as remixer / classically trained musician TJ Rehmi does? If this is so, are UB40 World Music? Is Black Sabbath? Is The Streets. And, what about Toyah? It’s a mystery. I’m still searching for the truth.
It’s likely that such ethnographic musings are of no concern to TJ Rehmi, who did, after all, call his first EP The Fusionist. Rehmi is a man as much at home with electronica as the nascent stylings of his heritage, not to mention a fondness for breakbeat tomfoolery. Such cross-cultural alchemy has made for some of pop’s most joyous sound clashes. And with Rehmi’s credentials, there’s no reason why The Warm Chill can’t be the Philospher’s Stone of cultural meltdown.
Except it isn’t.
There were two warnings. Firstly, the pacifying oxymoron of the album title. Secondly, the worrisome fact that this set is released through Dharma Moon, a label that markets directly to the ever-growing leotard legion of yoga practitioners. If Rehmi isn’t targeting the cultural dilettante, then Dharma Moon certainly are.
Much of The Warm Chill passes by without galvanising those under-used ear drums into motion. And while there’s nothing inherently artless about ambience per se, The Warm Chill is much closer to that most dead-end of ambient by-products, New Age. There’s just too much Economy Drive warmth, too little iceberg chill, and it beggars the question, what exactly was wrong with the Old Age anyway?
Perfumed, to pick one track of too many, speaks of a debt to Incantation. Aja, is less an ode to sunshine, as an ode to hi-fi in-store demonstration music. When someone (Rehmi himself we presume) whispers “come on” into the mix, you find yourself screaming back “feel the noize!”
The Warm Chill does throw up some curiosities along the way though. Asmaaniac references some weird folk music and comes kinda close to Bubba Sparxx Deliverance territory. Xcentric hits the right notes, the shifting sands of its dub-electronica and slo-mo breakbeat forming a convincing emotive whole rather than random unrelated sounds floating through the ether. On Lone Rider, Rehmi’s jazz guitar really does weep rather than drip crocodile tears.
Altogether, The Warm Chill is just too clean, too precise in its intentions, to really transport you to a state of suburban bliss-out, if that’s your bag. There’s also a strong whiff of works-in-progress about this record, that Rehmi saves his serious stuff for his other labels. This is an album recommended for those who take the “All You Can Eat” option at the Caf� Del Mar.