L.A. Weekly by John Payne – july 16th 1992
Peeni Waali is the love labor of Swiss composer/theoretician Fizzè, who’s assembled a superstars-of-reggae cast along with several Euro-iconoclasts to produce a soundscape of wide dimensions. Normally you’d suspect such a concept package to be the brain child of a clever Euro-guy with a big record collection who somehow gets the money to hirle his dream band, then dicks around with the tapes any way he pleases, and gets to hit a snare drum, too. Ahh, but just listen to the long, hard work Fizzè’s put into his project and his obvious respect for music. You’ll rarely hear more detailed, concise and natural musical editing; everything, the mixes and the cuts, just flows. And what a band Fizzè’s put together: Brit dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, who frames the disc with an ode to the firefly („Welcome, nocturnal friends / I name you beacons of hope“); the formidable Jamaican trombonist Rico, a most languorous player and the featured artist on this disc; both Robbie Shakespeare and Dennis Bovell on bass; Leroy „Horsemouth“ Wallace, the essence of Jamaican drumming; and notably Lee „Scratch“ Perry, the Jamaican dub genius, the godfather of hip-hop cutting wizardry and the man whose discoveries underlie this sound-painting approach.
What you’ll hear on Peeni Waali is up to you, as Fizzè’s deliberately pursued an absolute-music aesthetic, in which the music is what it is. It doesn’t augment lyrics or polemics; it’s a vast structure of tiny sound pieces, a multiple minimalism. Perry’s info-age lyrics on „Licht & Stein“, for example, enumerate impressions – places, people, things, events – to a non-specific end. Politics wopes the floor with music, of course, but the effect here is ultimately more profound than an earnest seminar about nuclear disarmament.
The real politics of this music could be the disc’s whopping playing time 68:27 – more value for the dollar here, folks.
The characteristic style thoughout Peeni Waali stands on Jamaican-based rhythmic foundations, but they’re comping through cuts like „Irish Ire“, the traditional jig performed on heavy bass, slow-trot drums, violin, cabassa, harp and spoons, and the convergence of musical forms makes sense. In the version take of the title tune, Fizzè mixes kalimbas, balaphones and clarinet into a new sound, one in which the satisfying sonorities of mallet instruments, too, sudenly appear quite clear.
Call it urban tropical music, or music for a happy and pleasant way of life. More importanly, though, Peeni Waali is contemporary music on the right track: it’s played and edited in real time, retaining the stirring psychological element of natural rhythms played on instruments (so sequencers); it offers the genuine and intelligent character of spontaneous, composed music making.
translation of an article by Marco Pandin appeared in the italian revista anarchica
There can be so many ways of disarranging a globe map of the world, upsetting and manipulating the borders that separate the nations. Fizzè found out a very special way, putting into practice a truly pacifist strategy to effectively redraw the map in new shapes (how I wish those in power would purchase musical instruments instead of wasting money in missiles…).
So here comes Peeni Waali, a strange name that should be already familiar to those of you who know „Voix vulgaires“. It’s a transcultural project that joins both the coasts of the ocean, a self-managed and independent initiative coordinated by Fizzè, once keyboardist with Nimal (an amazing act at the 1987 Zurich Jazz festival, they put out an album of the same name on the Wiss label Rec Rec, and a live cassette tape).
In this adventure, Fizzè rearranged a musical map of the world according to many different choices and preferences, approaching the mountain valleys of his homeland to the summer beaches of Jamaica, not to forget a handful of the subversive mist permanently clouding the London suburbs.
No rhythmical Adrian Sherwood-ish anxiety in this record: here you can freely breathe the mood for joking and amusement typical of certain new Swiss musicians. An honest commitment and an upright attitude give birth to a new kind of open music (another example of this „new wave of amazing contemporary music“ is the album release of Ensemble Rayé, recently released on the French label Ayaa Disques). Anyway, amusement here is not just another word for banality.
Peeni Waali’s album first track is „Beacon of Hope“, a poem by Linton Kwesi Johnson performed by the composer himself over a multicoloured background. A small bright Brixton mosaic pulsating with so many tendencies and tastes, just in the middle of the land of chocolate. I have never heard such an attracting rhythm before. It’s an unheard interweaving of noise and sound. Johnny Human’s accodion dancing happily on the corner.
Strong feelings and amusement: can you aqsk for more to a record? „Beacon of Hope“’s flashes still echoing, and here comes „Skarab“. If you already know „Voix vulgaires…“, you will easily see Kulu Hatha Mamnua in disguise. Fizzè took a plane to Kingston, Jamaica, and asked Robbie Shakespeare and other friends some contribution. And again „Ricochet“, with well known and largely used in these recordings Rico Rodriguez on trombone, „Licht & Stein“ with Dennis Bovell, a horn section from Liechtenstein and a dub-feverish Lee „Scratch“ Perry.
It’s a complete mess on your mind, as you listen to „Irish Irie“, a wonderful gemstone of Irish reels and reggae rhythm: such music is unheard and someway upsetting. You’ve just the time to breathe, and you’re again in deep water listening to Duke Ellington’s masterpiece „Satin Doll“, heretotally rearranged in the form of a timeless jewel of no geography.
I find Peeni Waali is great because it’s no sort of musical cosmetic surgery. It’s not definetely world-music-at-all-costs: again, go back to the „Voix vulgaires“ booklet and read Fizzè’s controversial writings on the subject.
Peeni Waali is a giant step forward David Byrne and Brian Eno’s pioneeristic expedition in the bush of ghosts: once the duo did manipulate tapes, today Fizzè deals with people, and he does his job with extreme respect.
Peeni Waali works because it’s the long-awaited new approach to making music. It’s a new and fresh and clean and open minded attitude, a definetively new way in creating music and love together. And Peeni Waali is reggae, it is dub, it is experimental music, it is rumorism, it is folk music from the middle of Europe… and it sounds nothing like these labels!
The only thing you should really do now is to purchase this record (go to Orders)…