When I first moved to Japan the second thing that freaked me out, after realising just how fucking far away it is, was the homogeneity of the population. Japan is many things but cosmopolitan it ain`t. Standing on a packed underground Metro train I was shocked to find that everyone bar me was Japanese. This would never be the case in London. When I usually tell this story in person I add that fortune had it that pretty much no one in the carriage reached my six foot in height, but if the opposite had been true, it would have been bloody intimidating. As a consequence, to try to counter this everyday homogeneity when I`m driving my kids about I do that “Balearic” thing of playing music from around the world. A bit of “musical education” in an attempt to broaden their horizons. One of the “games” that I run / force them to participate in is to guess the country of origin of the music that they can hear and the language it`s sung in. In the case of Family Atlantica`s “Cosmic Unity” we were all stumped. Knowing nothing about the band, we could hear Africa and South America. The only languages we could discern were a little English and Portuguese. Having subsequently jenned up on the musicians involved this is now no surprise, such a global chimera perhaps being Family Atlantica`s raison d`etre. “Cosmic Unity” is a call for such and ergo by design a place where histories and heritage, gateways and pathways meet.
The core members of Venezuelan Luzmira Zerpa, Londoner Jack Yglesias, of Now Again`s Psyche / Funk outfit The Helliocentrics, and Ghanaian Kwame Crentsil might be mix enough but the record is bolstered by a further nineteen singers and players that include fellow Heliocentrics Adrian Owusu and James Arben, five drummers and percussionists, four vocalists, four saxophonists, two of whom are Hi-Life legend Orlando Julius and Marshall Allen, the leader of Sun Ra`s Arkestra, bass, cello, violin, trombone, trumpet and mandolin, and luminaries who have worked with The Brand New Heavies, Bullion, Emanative, The James Taylor Quartet, Mulatu Astatke, Quantic, Roots Manuva, Smith & Mudd and Snowboy. Within this big band setting it`s then understandable that Caribbean steel pan Funk is accompanied by Ethiopian Horns, that a harmonica cuts a carnival of percussion, part Francis Bebey, part Nana Vasconcelos. That Brazil can also be heard in the strings, the psychedelic camp-fire Folk, and joyful “Bat Macumba” Tropicalia beneath conscious poetry and rousing chant. That Rhythms trace Footwork back to an African Griot in music that invokes the spirits of both Fela and Ra.