The Gilded Serpent presents...
Review of
"Itneen- Tribal Dance, Tribal Drums" by Helm
by Yasmine, Sirens In Sanity

Let's set the scene!

The dancer receives a gift, bundled in plastic, with beautiful colors flowing across the cover.  A new CD! Anticipation, excitement, and exhilaration runs through her veins.  She puts the CD in her stereo and waits for it to start. She is posed and ready to dance her heart out and be entertained by the rhythms pulsing through the speakers. The first song starts; then, she changes to the next track and the next; all the while her excitement is slowly diminishing... She is anxiously waiting to be swept away into the world of dance. She is ready to visualize her next performance, her next class lesson, and her next time when she can share her gift of dance. She finally turns away, disappointed that she was not truly captivated. She was the most perfect audience, just waiting to feel that fulfillment of an exceptionally good piece of music.

This scenario is how I felt when I first listened to Itneen by Helm. Undaunted, I tried again on my car stereo to listen to all the tracks, and revisited many of the same feelings. I tried 2 more times, playing the CD while teaching my class, and experienced that feeling once again. Itneen just did not grab me or hold me. It gave me little bits here and there, but then dropped me.

Below is my opinion, broken down into the various tracks.

Tracks 1, 12 & 14: These songs definitely made me envision ethnic dancers, performing at the Renaissance Faire.  That is the perfect setting and performers for what I heard in this music.

Tracks 2, 6, 7 & 11:  Mark Bell & Tobias Roberson are very talented percussionists and I appreciate their talents very much. However, the def was so dominating and carried on in the same rhythm too long in these songs, making them feel monotonous. The dominant def took away from the clean playing of the tabla. Maybe, if the def were toned down a bit and its rhythm varied more, it would not have been so distracting from the sound of the tabla.

Track 3: The mizmar in this track drove me nuts! It was loud and irritating. I changed tracks because of it.

Track 4:  This is a very sweet song. The accordion and tabla complimented each other. This is my favorite song on the whole CD. I would like to have heard this song fade out and not speed up and end so quickly.

Track 5: I truly appreciate and love percussion in all styles of music and loved what I heard in this song. It was quite a mixture of different rhythms and affects..somewhat like a sampler.

Tracks 7, 8 & 9: I thought the "unplugged" angle on this CD was very creative. I am a big fan of the ciftetelli rhythm; however, these songs were a bit long for me. They did not enough variation with such a heavy heart-beat rhythm.

Track 10: Reminded me of an old Cleopatra movie. This would be a fun song to use for a theme-oriented dance. It was very theatrical sounding.

Tracks 13 & 16: These songs would be good for teaching beginning finger cymbals or drum in a class atmosphere. Its rhythms are slow enough that students would be able to pick up the rhythm and play along with confidence.

Track 15: Bravo, to Tobias & Mark! Tobias and Mark are exceptional percussionists and it was satisfying the teamwork that went into playing this song. Drumming like this is a gift.

You can listen to a few of these tracks yourself on the Helm Website.
Helm consists of Mark Bell, Ling Shien Bell, and Tobias Roberson. You can purchase their music from the Helm Music website or the FCBD website.

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