EKOVA, at Lee's Palace, July 3. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 60. Rating: NNN
Judging by the current state of global fusion, you'd think Ekova's debut Toronto appearance would be a major affair.
The Parisian quartet push all the right buttons. Iranian percussionist Arach Khalatbari and Algerian oud strummer Mehdi Haddab fuse acoustic playing with electronic beats while American vocalist Deirdre Dubois sings made-up words in a vaguely Arabic wail.
Maybe it was a long-weekend hangover that kept people away from Lee's Palace Monday. To their credit, though, Ekova were unfazed by the tiny crowd and the handful of people who watched the show with their heads on the table.
While DJ/knob-twiddler Pierre Boscheron released mammoth bass thumps from behind his rose-covered table, Khalatbari and Haddab soloed frantically over pre-recorded beats. The fusion was seamless and the effect hypnotic, with Haddab plucking furiously and running his oud through a variety of effects pedals.
If there was a stumbling point in Ekova's cross-cultural jamming, it was Dubois's vocalizing. The singer is enthusiastic enough, with her long phrasings putting Ekova halfway between Trans Global Underground and Dead Can Dance.
Sadly, she doesn't have the control or the ballast to make the nonsense words more than just dreamy cooing. Dubois's herky-jerky hippy dancing didn't help either. More instrumentals would have been appreciated.