Western music, especially on the North American front, is diversifying in new and exciting way right now, and there is perhaps no group in the United States or Canada that embodies the essence of this statement quite like the Toronto Tabla Ensemble does. With shades of flamenco, worldbeat, jazz, Canadian tribal folk, rock and even ambient music forming the basis of their eclectic sound, there’s no simple way to describe the Toronto Tabla Ensemble or songs like their latest release, “Dream Symposium.” Though it features only a few glimpse into melodicism as we’ve come to understand it, what it lacks it addictive pop hooks this single more than makes up for in percussive prowess and anthemic, groove-based charisma.
Though their sound is a hybridity of the most surreal variety, the Toronto Tabla Ensemble aren’t even close to leaving something to be desired with regards to their originality. The deliberately frustrated grind of the grooves in this song are unlike anything I’ve ever heard before, and even if they aren’t attached to some lurid guitar freak-out, they still seem to stoke the same sort of reaction that one would have at an amplified heavy metal concert. It’s like the drums of war, the tolling of the bell atop the hill – no matter where we’re from, what language we speak or what gods we may or may not believe in, we know that this sound means “stand at attention” whenever we hear it. It’s as old school as it gets, but make no mistakes about it – “Dream Symposium” is very much a product of the modern age.
You can look as hard and long as you want throughout the American and Canadian undergrounds this fall, but I do not believe you’re going to find anything as unique and cinematically engaging as this latest offering from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble is. I’ve never been the biggest fan of this kind of experimental music, but to be perfectly frank, you don’t have to be to fall in love with the sound that this groove syndicate has produced for us here. It’s a one in a million listen in a year that has been in need of better beats for a little more than a hot minute.