Percussionist, turntablist, composer, and DJ Raz Masinai
has been moving in and out of New York's underground dub scene for years as a member of the influential duo Sub Dub
, as a founding member of the turntablist collective Rotor
, and as a solo artist. As a soloist he records mainly under the name Badawi
, and his third ROIR release under that moniker is yet another significant departure from past directions. Soldier of Midian
finds him moving away from reggae or hip-hop-inspired beats and dipping into a Middle-Eastern groove; trance-inducing, multi-layered percussion shimmers and percolates around keening reed instruments, dulcimer, and the occasional electric bass, and vocals are mainly limited to wordless ululations. While the elements involved are kaleidoscopic, their density makes the tracks somewhat samey; put too many colors and textures on a canvas and it all starts looking like grey eventually. But the music is genuinely involving, and it's possible to identify a couple of standout tracks, including the dulcimer-driven "The Scorpion and the Serpent (Prepare for Battle)" and the eerie but lovely album-closer "The Storm." This is not party music, and it wouldn't even be exactly accurate to call it "fun," but it is certainly both intelligent and rewarding.