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  • Writer's pictureRohit "Untzkun" More

African Psychedelic music revisited with this Afrobeat Fusion by the RAAR Trio!

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

The opening is adorned with the dreamy and warm tone of Ari Joshua’s guitar melodies. Each note handpicked to transcend you into a trance, gracefully capturing the afrobeat sensation he heard in his birthplace of South Africa.

The driving force behind the song is Russ Lawton’s drum work. He lays down a satisfying groove that is sure to hypnotize you into a polyrhythmic heaven, drenched in the Afrobeat essence.

Ray “The Milkman” Paczkowski has his way with the keys like no other! Drifting and sweeping through them like a feather on silk. He has a rather percussive approach to the keys, not so common in these times. Ray Paczkowski, & Russ Lawton are known for their multiple decades of work with The Trey Anastasio Band, Soule Monde, & Lamp.

We at Tune Oasis had the chance to have a little interview with guitarist, educator, & composer Ari Joshua!

1. What inspired you to become a musician, and how long have you been playing music?

I am inspired by the cosmic nature of all the things there are, and the way music expresses that majestic unknown thing that no one can seem to put into words. It’s been my path since about age

2. Can you tell us more about your musical background?

I picked up a guitar and learned the blues to start. I learned all by cassette tape and by old records. I was lucky to have a few best friends around music from a young age, and we all played in bands and pushed each other. In high school, I played big band jazz in an arts magnet school. We toured the US, Europe, and Mexico. It led to a scholarship to study with some of the masters in NYC. I have been really blessed with that solid foundation that always will be with me.

3. Can you walk me through your process for creating a new piece of music? How do you come up with ideas, and how do you refine them into a finished product?

Music comes to me. I just need to make time and space for it. If I have a recording or a gig coming up that calls for new work, I just think about the topic, and it often comes out in a way. More through me. I rarely finish any ideas. The new ideas come and I take notes on paper. I write down any lyrics or tangential ideas. Then I play with people or loop it, and listen. Once I get to a studio and record it, most of the crucial parts are all in place. The final product is a huge journey. I put in at least 50 hours per track, some over 100. Every now and then it comes out faster, or with less effort to finish, but for the most part, things don’t sound finished to me, I spend 3 days on a song with an engineer often when I need to finish. The engineer allows me to focus on the flow. If I am alone, I can get stuck in inertia. At some point, you have to accept there are other songs to work on and if you worked on one song forever it would be a problem for your potential listeners. Even though the universe may be one song, there are many songs inside my soul, I will say I am getting better each year. Things are happening. Before the pandemic, I was just wishing and wishing I could be heard and seen, and even one interview request, it would have been a celebration, now they are coming in with consistency. Ultimately I look back and see my best joys have come from sharing this passion one way or another.

The engineer in this case, Ben Collette, and the studio, The Tank in Burlington, VT also play a huge part. He knows that room so well, and he also has a lot of Trey’s gear out there. Pretty cool to be using his Univibe, and Victoria Tremolo on this track.

4. Collaborative projects like this often involve a dynamic interplay between musicians. Can you discuss how each member of the team contributed to the song's overall composition and vibe?

Collaboration is different for each unit, it depends on the players and the timing. With Ray Paczcowski and Russ Lawton, they were just so open and willing to work things out like garage band style. As they put their creative DNA stamp on things I am always making sure to pay attention, include their ideas and make room for personality to shine through, but also I know what I want when I hear it. Listening is really the center of it all.

5. What's the story behind the song's title, and how does it tie into the overall theme or narrative of the track?

For Kambo Wambo, I have been reading about plant medicine, and without sharing too much here I have been a part of a few ceremonies with tremendous transcendental and mind-blowing beautiful experiences. I think the Frog Art by Martin Ontiveros also sticks to the vibe perfectly. I really imagined what the Amazonian frogs may hear if they were all partying. I am not gonna lie as well, the Phish / Jam scene has a lot of roots in that world. I wanted to bring something also as a tribute to TAB, and Ray and Russ’s style.

6. Finally, what can listeners expect from your future projects or collaborations? Are there any exciting developments on the horizon for your music?

Dragons Layer with John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Jason Fraticelli is out now this week. I am doing a round-robin thing with my material. It just makes the most natural sense for me both budget, and also creative flow-wise. I have another 10 songs that are at 75% done. Soon I will announce what the next 2-5 releases are, but I am still in the thick of this batch.

Hey, thanks for having me! Have a blessed day. Also to the reader, there is a lot out there to check out, I have put so much into this art, and I really hope you can find it to resonate with you!

This is the type of song that you’ll be humming for days. Give it a spin!

Dive into the tune here:


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