hide captionLal Meri members (from left) Carmen Rizzo, Nancy Kaye and Ireesh Lal.
Lal Meri takes its name from an ancient Sufi folk song, part of a mystical tradition that helped to expand the reach of Islam around the world in centuries past. Ecstatic, transcendental Sufi art forms were used to draw people in through direct experience, bypassing dogma and authoritarianism. And, in a sense, that's just what this unusual trio is all about — unifying listeners of different cultures, beliefs and aesthetics with an irresistibly seductive sound.
Eastern mysticism and pop music have been cross-pollinating since at least The Beatles. In recent years, dance-friendly club mixes rich with sounds from India, Iran and the Arab world have become a cottage industry. Lal Meri certainly draws from globalista techno-pop, but Nancy Kaye's languid vocals, mostly in English, become a powerful focus. Poetry and form are as important here as atmosphere and groove.
Lal Meri is the work of three self-described "headstrong producers," who come together under the potentially insipid banner of, "Why can't we be together as one?" It's an endeavor that risks dissolving into a well-meaning muddle. Layers of droning vocals and jangling strings swirl together within grooves that range from a lazy lope to lashing club beats. But the best songs always coalesce around Kaye's charismatic vocals.
For all the high concept and technical finesse here, these are essentially pop songs, with verses, choruses and elegant vocal hooks — not so far from The Beatles after all.