There’s nothing unusual in having a sound that could be described as patchwork, these day – as music culture has become increasingly fractured, influences have to be drawn from an ever widening palate of sound. Against this kind of background, MIA shot to prominence, becoming more of a collector of sounds and the thread with which it was all woven together, rather than an outstanding talent in her own right. Love her or hate her, and with an increasing amount of people heading towards to second camp it’s important to remember this, she has certainly left an indelible mark upon the music industry.
It’s difficult to know what Rainbow Arabia think of West London’s most famous Tamil independence activist. On the one hand, it’s difficult to imagine the married duo being able to receive the same amount of exposure they’ve had if it weren’t for the pioneering noises of Arular part way through the last decade. On the other, however, it’s difficult to listen to their debut album, Boys and Diamonds independent of its forerunner.
The tunes are everything you’d expect from a band who happily embrace the term ‘fourth world’, bringing together the noises of a million different gap years together to make something genuinely interesting. There’s a bit of African guitar work here, an attempt at tribal-style percussion there, even a shot or two at adding in some dub reggae rhythms into the mix at some points too, glued together with some pretty interesting snaking synth work. But whilst it’s certainly all very good, it never really threatens to break out of that into being outstanding, rarely making the leap into it’s own space that you spend the entirety of its 41 minute running time urging it to do.
It’s difficult to deny their ear for an interesting sound, and they’re rammed together here in a similar manner to how Gold Panda managed to craft Lucky Shiner, only without the same homespun charm and personality. Boys and Diamonds is an incredibly good base for an album, a stupidly good starting point, but it still feels as though this is more of a series of backing tracks waiting for Maya to spit rhymes about commercialism over the top of it rather than a fully formed idea. An incredible set of ideas, even if they’re not quite fully formed.