Deftly marrying ancient and modern, the organic with the synthetic, and heartfelt emotion with complete and utter alienation, Lumin's intriguing sophomore effort, Hadra, is a study in colorful contradictions. Best described as Middle East-meets-West electronica, this is ancient folk music birthed from the worldly womb of a laptop. Well, not completely. Though many of these global sounds are actually emanating from a San Francisco living room, this is not your standard rave fare of high-energy techno sparsely sprinkled with a token lute or dulcimer sample to give it the requisite pseudoexotic flavor.
Hadra is testament to Lumin's virtuosity on musical instruments that don't emit gamma rays, thanks to Jeffrey Stott and Michael Emenau. Stott summons haunting drones from such unique contraptions as the oud, baglama, yali tambur, and santoor as he displays the musical influences gathered from his time in Morocco, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey. Emenau brings to the table his classical, jazz, and acid-jazz background and an egghead's dedication to breakbeats and trance grooves. Breaking from the mostly mellow and hallucinatory mode of this release, Emenau's influence is most readily displayed on the tunes "Iz Pod Duba" and "Meta," which seamlessly combine organic and digital percussion in intoxicating and upbeat meditative polyrhythms.
Simultaneously confounding and engaging the listener is Irina Mikhailova. The band's only human voice, Mikhailova is at her enchanting best on the track "Vchera Minah." Singing in Bulgarian, her native Kazakh, her own hybrid dialect while utilizing Sufi trance and overtone chanting, her wailing, bittersweet, and at times bleak singing style succeeds in carefully dancing around the landmines of New Age and sidestepping any pitfalls a female vocalist may encounter while exploring Enya's well-worn turf.
With Hadra, Mikhailova's distinctive vocal gymnastics provide the perfect commentary to Stott and Emenau's ethereal soundtrack, as Lumin documents the sensual sounds that can result when two disparate worlds gracefully collide.