Review | Songlines

Thumbs on the Outside

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Michael Baird
Michael Baird & Pino Basile


SWP Records


Born in Zambia and based in the Netherlands, percussionist Michael Baird is an intrepid curator of African field recordings and creator of his own experimental and percussion-based music. With roots in rock, Latin and jazz he was at the forefront of the interest in world music when his group Sharp Wood performed their ‘voodoo-jazz’ back in the 1980s. As on his previous album, Ferrari Safari, we are treated to layers of different percussion instruments and rhythms from around the world.

He continues to dabble with the vodoun theme in an eclectic collection of highly enjoyable soundscapes. It’s not all percussion – there is some excellent guitar, flute, clarinet and saxophone adding melody and atmosphere. Particularly striking is ‘Hello Hello Lilo’ on which his five-month-old grand-daughter burbles and giggles over a deeply spooky voodoo percussive backing. ‘Monday’s Heat Wave’ is bold and experimental, and ‘Resurgent’ is deeply meditative with exquisite flute and a gamelan feel. Another very successful track is ‘Ainu’, which has some delicate guitar playing on a track dedicated to Indigenous people around the world who have suffered destruction of their culture and environment. Gloriously adventurous and enjoyable.

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