Yes, multiculturalism continues to be a buzzword at political conventions and network meetings, but in the realm of popular music, the progress has been almost glacial — with the exception of the electronic underground. The inclusiveness of that community was manifested vividly at this overflowing outdoor show — which brought together a far-flung community of expatriates from Britain, the subcontinent and the Islands (both Caribbean and Staten).
Roni Size, the winner of a Mercury Prize in Britain for his 1997 album “New Forms,” is considered a pioneer of drum-and-bass music — and like most proponents of the genre, he’s had to work on overcoming a serious case of studio-rat facelessness. Size still maintains a relatively low profile onstage — sharing a riser with three other sequencer whizzes — but Reprazent manages to generate a fair amount of energy, thanks to the perpetual motion of vocalists Onalee and MC Dynamite.
Dynamite is more of a presence on Reprazent’s newer material — as evidenced by an explosive version of “Who Told You,” the lead single from the band’s forthcoming “In the Mode” album. Unfortunately, the newly configured, harder edge of the handful of new songs premiered this evening dispensed with the jazzy intricacy of, say, “Brown Paper Bag,” which sounded somewhat rushed and perfunctory at this perf.
In pumping up the volume, Size and company lost a good deal of their innate dynamics, creating a passel of rhythms that writhed unctuously and aimlessly without moving in any palpable direction — with the exception of the thunderous “Balanced Chaos,” a track that lived up to its promising title.
Opener Anoushka Shankar — the 19-year-old daughter of sitar legend Ravi Shankar — had to do battle with a combination of a restless crowd and an underwhelming mix, both of which compromised her delicate sonic tapestries. Her prowess as a sitarist — as well as her flair for infusing classical arrangements with modern flavor — was nevertheless quite evident to anyone who took the time to listen.