Release Date: Mar 1, 2011
Record label: Kompakt
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
The husband-and-wife duo of Danny & Tiffany Preston may hail from Los Angeles, but it was a Lebanese Casio keyboard (programmed to play microtonal scales and various Middle Eastern rhythm patterns) that inspired them to create their unique brand of globe-trotting poptronica. Their first full-length album (following two EPs) finds them settling into a well-developed and highly personal sound that draws from any number of exotic musical cultures without depending too much on any one of them. The album's title track offers what may be the perfect introduction to Rainbow Arabia's art: glistening guitar lines, lurching rhythms, dubbed-up baby-doll vocals, wordless whoops, and a tight-but-dreamy melody combine to make one of the more original sounds currently on the market.
Rainbow Arabia may seem an unlikely signing to Kompakt, but given the label’s appetite for all manner of dance and, particularly, its newfound taste for the garish and maximal, it’s no wonder it gravitated towards this globalist blend of puckish synths, Middle Eastern modalities and gleeful polyrhythms. Tiffany Preston impishly tries on accents for her FX-thinned vocals, Jamaican brogue here or a lot of Karin Dreijer Andersson wailing there, but it’s the omni-directional whirl and clashing textures that consume the most. .
Rainbow Arabia are not a band of hidden depths. Named in honour of the Lebanese Casio that prompted husband and wife Danny (also of punk/dub band Future Pigeon) and Tiffany Preston to form the band (not the most grandiose of band formation stories), the duo produces the sort of colourful, Eastern influenced electronica that their moniker would suggest. And just to make sure nobody comes in with incorrect preconceptions, they've gone and given their debut album the Material Girl-shallow title of Boys and Diamonds.
Rainbow Arabia is the husband and wife duo Danny and Tiffany Preston—Tiffany on vocals and Danny at the production helm. The two call Los Angeles home, however the duo has taken up sonic residency in many different corners of the globe. The first stop in this group’s ascendancy to global pop pastiche is Kompakt records, Cologne, Germany’s premier house and techno label.
Boys And Diamonds is an album that takes two different roads. A journey down one avenue finds Rainbow Arabia exploring the unrefined, bespoke freedom of African rhythms, ad hoc instrumentation and unfiltered self-expression. But there is another route being taken here, down which the duo take heavily processed electronics, technological trickery and futurist melodic manipulation.
Although it still has pretty amazing cachet, I bet most electronic music nerds would agree that Kompakt's facing a tough brief as it powers through its second decade as a label. For starters, it no longer seems to produce the kind of paradigm-breaking acts or tracks like it did when microhouse was in its heyday. For seconds, the parallel ascendancy of Kompakt-inspired labels like Brooklyn's Wolf + Lamb has hinted at a generational shift in techno; one could now argue that Kompakt is more revered than it is fashionable-- aging well, but aging nonetheless.
Married couple Danny and Tiffany Preston started Rainbow Arabia with the purchase of a Casio AT-1, one of Casio’s ‘Ethnic Music Keyboards’ that facilitates playing in the microtonal scales that feature in non-Western musics, such as those of the Middle East. They listened to Congotronics and prolific Syrian musician Omar Souleyman, whose bootleg cassettes litter Middle Eastern and North African cassette kiosks and, thanks to the efforts of outré non-Western-pop-bottlers Sublime Frequencies, the neat CD and vinyl stores of Rainbow Arabia’s hemisphere. Thus equipped, Rainbow Arabia have plugged these interesting possibilities into a prefabricated niche whose most popular planes are formed by the intersection of the likes of Gang Gang Dance, High Places, Javelin, M.
With hooks this good, who cares about derivativeness? Chris Power 2011 In 2008 the UK independent label Merok, home to the debuts of Crystal Castles and Klaxons, put out a seven-inch from LA-based Rainbow Arabia. Sandwiched between releases from blog-adored acts Telepathe and Salem, the microtonal loops and ululating vocal of the Arabic-flavoured Omar K fit the label’s pedigree and whetted appetites for more. It’s slightly to Rainbow Arabia’s detriment, then, that their first album is emerging almost three years since that initial buzz was generated.