Thursday, February 28, 2008


A short, intriguing debut release of world music electronica from a talented new singer from Scotland, by way of Burma.

Fiona Soe Paing is a Scottish producer, arranger and musician of Burmese extraction who marries electronic beats to an unearthly, ethereal vocal style on an atmospheric, at times downbeat, set of self-penned songs. The opening track Tamin Sah Pade — the only song in the Burmese language (the others being a mix of English and a made-up ‘No Man’s’ language) — is a stunningly lush, pulsing slab of whispered electronic instruments and a nagging multi-tracked vocal, with a melody that follows you around for days. A hint of the enormous potential here.

But if Soe Paing has a simple but subtly effective voice, it can sometimes be swamped in the mix of belching, squeaking instruments and dramatic synthesised sounds. In fact, it’s hard to tell which language she is singing in on Tah Stin Koh Mpo, such is the way her disembodied voice is buried in the mix; is it English? Probably not, given the title of the song. But Piece of You certainly is, and is surely the way to go for Fiona on future recordings — stark, minimalist, with just the merest hint of a groove and a sensual, bluesy vocal. This and the opener (and one or two of the other of the nine songs) are evidence of a performer with the potential for an enormous future in the fascinating area where roots music meets modern sounds.

This review first appeared on

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