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David Starfire Creates a Psy­Dub Masterpiece for Collaborative Burmese Benefit Album [Album Review]


California based burner, David Starfire has put together a magnificent collaboration of musicians in a new release that is geared toward raising funds for a Burmese educational non-­profit called Thai Freedom House. The new album, “Karuna,” is a Sanskrit word for compassion and features special guests Govinda on violin, Jamie Janover on dulcimer, Alex Grey, and a number of prestigious Burmese musicians. “Karuna” is valiant display of the complexity and versatility of Burmese musicianship that mesh beautifully over Starfire’s clever synth lines and booming bass bumps. A rich and fulfilling album that aligns the contrasting resonance of Eastern and Western cultures while dancing between sounds of native and modern. Inspired and captivated by the culture, Starfire successfully broke new ground as the album is the first time a Western electronic artist who has collaborated with Burmese refugees.

The first two songs off the 10 ­track album, ‘Qilin’ and ‘Osi’, are upbeat psy­dub bangers. Featuring Burmese violinist Len Pong and HAANA respectively, Starfire boldly lays down his thick dub grooves that flow effortlessly behind the bright hum of the violins. The violins carry the melody and dance clearly alongside the mixture of the bass highs and lows.

Starfire draws inspiration for his music from everywhere as the next track, “The One,” was inspired by his visit to CoSM (the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors); a slow and drippy song that features visionary artist and philosopher Alex Grey reciting an excerpt from his book ‘Art Psalms’ that is accompanied by the flute­ work of Joaqopelli. The next track is a collaboration of musical minds that merged to create a beautiful and soaring masterpiece. “Khong” has violinist Govinda matched up with Jamie Janover and his dulcimer in a twirl of wonder and magnificence.

Starfire begins to spill the wobble sauce as the album progresses. “Na Hearn” features vocalist Gonlao whose foreign singing is drenched in bouncy bass lines. Track 6, “Tenaku,” is a showcase of the sound Starfire is trying to accomplish with this album. An amazing composition that features harp player and social activist, Doo Plout and William Close & The Earth Harp Collective, a world-renowned musician and installation artist who turns architecture into instruments. As we move toward the end of the album, “Tenaku” contains an almost meditative flow as the strings and bass converge symbiotically.

“Tapton” is Starfire’s last breath as the track jumps into an upbeat and poppy style that fuses instrumentation, vocalization and modernization flawlessly. “Karuna” ends with a narrative by harp player and prominent social activist, Chi Suwichan, who explains that there is a “flowing infinity” between humanity, nature and the interconnection of all life.

Starfire uses this idea of connectivity as the foundation for the album as he interconnects different cultures and sounds in a delicate yet dance-­driven harmony. The multi­-instrumentalist has a knack for fusing the indigenous with electronic. Starfire’s signature sound has led him to perform at incredible festivals like Burning Man, Coachella, Shambahla and Lightning in a Bottle where he will be returning this May.

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