Exodus Steel Orchestra - Exodus
Released in 1998, Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus was recorded "live" at their panyard in St. Augustine, Trinidad on portable recording equipment and released in 24-bit HDCD format. (It should, however, play fine on all but the oldest CD players.)
The recording quality is overall quite excellent really. Whether 24-bit HDCD really provides any improvement in sound quality, especially given the typical acoustics of a domestic sitting room, over standard 16-bit CD format is something I have always been more than a little skeptical about though. Given ideal acoustics and a real top-notch speaker system, the difference may just possibly be clearly discernible. Bear in mind though that there is an awful lot of snobbery among HiFi equipment freaks. Hey, the rig cost X-thousands so it must be clearly better!
However the case may be, Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus will sound perfectly good in average domestic acoustics given reasonable quality equipment, and it will still sound pretty good even on cheaper gear.
If there is any technical criticism I might have, it would be that the drums, especially the bass drum, are a tad too prominent and this would have benefited hugely from good multi-track mixing down. On the average small two-speaker gear this is a bit less noticeable though.
Overall, this is one of the best quality Sanch recordings I have heard yet. And there certainly have not been any real "lemons" among them yet, they have all been pretty decent quality at the least.
Of course, the quality is also aided to some extend by Exodus' relatively mellow sound, an inheritance likely arising out of the fact that the band started out on pans generously lent them by legendary pan innovator and captain, the late Rudolph "The Hammer" or "Charlo" Charles of the mighty Despers (Desperadoes Steel Orchestra), the premier steel orchestra of Trinidad and the world.
Exodus are one of the younger pansides of Trinidad, having formed in 1981 from a breakaway faction of players from the Gay Flamingoes Steel Orchestra of St. Augustine under the leadership of Amin Mohammed. In that relatively short time, their rise to the "First Division" of pan in Trinidad and Tobago has been meteoric. They have established themselves as a band that is just that little bit special. Their track record in competitions such as the National Panorama Championship has been remarkable, and they have toured overseas quite extensively already. They are now under the management of Ainsworth Mohammed, brother of founder Amin Mohammed.
Although the material on Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus is perhaps a bit of a mixed bag, that is, perhaps not always the optimal choice, the album is a joy to listen to and makes you, by and large, want to "jump up and wine", or reach for your bottle-and-spoon and play along. Even Franz von Suppé's Poet and Peasant Overture becomes a fabulous dance groove here. Exodus' smooth, somewhat Desper-esque sound that nonetheless has grown into a voice uniquely their own is also a joy in itself.
A thoroughly enjoyable album overall that speaks to the ears, heart, soul, and feet, Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus really should be in any good steel pan collection and will certainly make for a great addition to any general Caribbean or world music collection.
© 2005 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.