Loud Taikoelectric

I must confess to an initial lack of open-mindedness about Loud. After all, their name seems more appropriate to a set of 18-year-old punks (and I'm surprised none has taken it), and their musical line-up - an electric guitarist and two taiko drummers - seemed to scream of an earnest world music experiment that would have me snoozing. I was wrong. Very wrong. Taikoelectric is in fact a remarkable journey that starts with the basic elements involved - the atmospheric guitar stabs and noodles of Elaine Stef (Rhythm Activism) and polyrhythmic drumming of Eileen Kage and Leslie Komori. Having established that foundation, the group goes on to flesh out the intricate possibilities of their line-up, and by the time Komori picks up a flute on "April 26," it sweetens the melody into something simply breathtaking. On tracks like "Pebbles and Boulders," the warmth and depth of the Japanese drums drops you into a dark hole of layered rhythms that makes you wonder just what's going on in frequencies we can't hear. In contrast, "Soran Bushi-Last Potato Polka" pulls out all the stops in a stew pot of Eastern European and Asian sounds. Free your mind and open your ears - Loud won't disappoint. (Independent)