[Reviewed by stark]
I’ve got a small problem with Rapoon, I have to admit it. It’s not even about the quality of the music, but rather its quantity. Every month or two I hear the news about a new album, a collaboration or a luxury re-edition. Robin is definitely one of those ambient musicians for whom the word “prolific” has been invented. I tried to embrace Rapoon’s discography lately, or rather those albums I have, which is like… a lot, so the last couple of evenings I spent with this peculiar tribal ambient characterized by quite a unique, Eastern atmosphere, sometimes Middle Eastern, sometimes – like in this case – closer to the so called “Heartland”. Did I reach any conclusion, you may ask? Well, as a matter of fact, yes, a very innovative one. That old Rapoon was better.
That leads me to the last epic re-issue of one of his classics, that is “The Kirghiz Light” released this time by Zoharum Records. The first release, the Staalplaat edition, took place 21 years ago. What we get now is a 3CD monument, with 2 silver discs containing the original (but remastered) material, while the third one contains the new compositions based on raw material from “The Kirghiz Light”. And this is Rapoon from its best era that eventually led to the masterpiece called “The Fires Of The Borderlands” which was released 3 years later (and has also been re-issued by Zoharum).
The original album is built of 18 tracks. Most of them are based on windy and sandy backgrounds, looped tribal percussions and occasional vocals, samples of original instruments and atmospheric textures. You could say that Rapoon has the same foundations as Muslimgauze, but touches the subject from a completely different point of view. While Bryn Jones was more interested in humane and political reflections, Robin Storey is definitely more into the mystical and spiritual sphere. Two different sides of the same coin, and probably still unrivalled masters when it comes to exotic-infused ambient and electronic music in general. There are some younger fellows who try a similar approach, but no, adding samples from a National Geographic documentary or even your holidays in Iran or Morocco or whatever, does not make your music more exotic and mysterious for the Western listener.
This music has a flow. An aura of mirage covers the dynamic rhythm parts which don’t dominate the compositions. Hence it is dreamy, but keeping your attention. Rooted in an actual culture or a geographical region, but somehow at the same time derived from it, drifting through time and space. I think the album reaches its climax around the tracks nr 7 and 8, that is the absolutely mesmerizing “Feathered Skies” and “Ora”. I knew this album before, but it was a real pleasure to dig into it once again. But there are still some of his old releases that I didn’t have the opportunity to get acquainted with, so, even despite my doubts, keep that direction, Zoharum.