LELE LELE – Lele Lele (2009)

Review by: Alejandro Muñoz G
Album assigned by: Nina A

Who are Lele Lele? Couldn’t find much information about them. In fact, couldn’t find anything apart from the fact that according to Spotify they are mostly listened to in Apeldoorn and Częstochowa. Trying to place their sound in a specific place is no easy task either. Sounding Eastern-Europeanish, Turkish-Balkanish, Middle-Eastern and Indian all at once, they are definitely a fusion group. But definitely not the kind of fusion group in which fusion means taking anything that sounds new or alternative or exotic in anyway, for then mixing it with the familiar sounds of pop and rock. There’s no pop nor rock in here. There’s not a lot of jazz either. And yet, it doesn’t seem to me as unescapably traditional music.
There’s a European wind ensemble somewhere in here; and then one finds some Indian percussion and sitar (or something sounding like it); plus a guitar-like instrument all in the middle. It’s folksy and yet it is not folk music in the sense of being the traditional music of a specific place. It is global folk, nomadic folk: folk music which tells the story, not of a place, but of a journey, an exchange. That way the record manages to sound characteristically Turkish or balkanic sometimes; extremely Indian at others, and still it always feels consistent, connected and balanced.
In a way, this music feels groovy, especially the slow songs. Not sure why but a song like “Cogs and Gears” reminds me of Reggae, even if it’s a completely different genre; it’s probably the syncopation. And that’s one of the most interesting things in this music: the syncopated rhythm. The rhythms are rich and complex and frequently all the instruments play in syncopation to one other.  
The mood of the album is hard to describe. The uptempo songs are festive and danceable, and yet, they don’t really feel that happy. More than anything else, they sound mysterious (though that may be simply the effect of Eastern scales on western ears). At times they may sound more playful, at times kind of melancholic, but the mystery lingers.
Overall impression: I enjoyed the album and I’m glad and grateful for the opportunity of getting to know it and explore it. I admire the consistency of their fusion; it certainly works and it works very well, and has let me curious about the context of the album. Still, on a purely emotional level I couldn’t really get a strong connection with the music. It may sound a little bit too premeditated (like it happens sometimes with superb instrumentalists). Maybe they lack a bit of rashness and spontaneity. Maybe it just felt a little bit distant, or it’s simply not my kind of music. Probably I just have to listen to it a couple of more times and without having to think much about it to write a review.  Anyway, I wouldn’t put anyone off listening to this record. I would recommend it. It’s good fusion music performed by an excellent singer and band. Also, don’t know why but I feel it may be enjoyed a lot more live. I would really like to see them in concert.