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The best kept secret in music


"Anyu:Reasons/4.5 out of 5"

Every now and then you hear an album that completely takes you out of your element and transports your imagination to some place completely new. Like a good book or movie, it’s a journey that you simply accept and enjoy the ride. These albums are in short supply, mainly because it takes a certain sort of talent to create such grand designs and when we’re talking about a music business that’s falling over on itself from the inside out, these kinds of artists are either given extremely short shrift or are under the radar more than ever.

Lucky for us, then, that we have been graced by the presence of Anyu and his excellent new album, Reasons. He’s being billed as a World/Latin music amalgam, and while there are elements of those genres in his music, what it basically comes down to is that this is simply an excellent pop album, full of maturity, darker overtones, rich production, and music and lyrics that will give you that instant “cinema of the mind” reaction. Reasons is almost one of those indescribable works that when you hear it, you know you’re being reminded of something, but you’re not sure what, which is always a good thing – as it shows that Anyu has taken whatever inspirations he’s had and made them his own.

The track that really gripped me the most upon first hearing Reasons was “Lucky Ones.” Lyrically, the song is about a girl who’s always been judged harshly throughout her life both by her family and friends, with both factions impressing their own ideas and beliefs on her while stifling her personality. It’s definitely some deep and heady stuff going on here, not the garden variety “Janie’s Got a Gun” crap, but something far more shadowy. Yet on top of this it’s the hypnotic music, produced expertly with a sheen that would make Steely Dan proud (and coming from this writer, that’s heavy praise). Ominous synth notes buzz in and out at the right moments, while Anyu’s crisp, warm guitar melts into the background and the percussion sweeps in to heighten the emotion.

But let’s drop back a bit. Anyu isn’t new to the scene at all. When he was a teen, Anyu played in the group the First Thought, which happened to be managed by Susan Silver, then-wife of Chris Cornell of Soundgarden/Audioslave fame. The band was impressive enough to open for acts such as UB40 and Thomas Dolby. Afterwards, Anyu decided that he wanted to explore other areas of music, and thus began a lifelong journey to other continents and countries, spending time in Europe and India, seeking out the sources of his world music inspirations. The end result was that it deepened Anyu’s musical versatility, performance, and abilities in the studio itself.

Anyu makes it clear that Reasons is indeed a product of his band’s work, not just his alone. He says, “I recorded the songs over and over with many different musicians until I got what I was searching for. It’s not the note that interests me, it’s the sound of the note.” More shades of that Steely Dan attitude shining through – but this isn’t at all like the Dan’s music in the end, even if it is just as eclectic. In songs such as “No More Than a Day” and “Sasha,” the music just seemingly comes alive and grows at its own fluid pace, not rushing itself.

Indeed, Reasons is a lush, sort of languid album, but that’s not to say it teeters on the boring or pretentious. On the contrary, it sounds like a very mature work, almost like one of those albums by an artist who’s been around releasing discs for years and has hit the sweet spot and knows how to get every last great drop from the recipe. That Anyu is a relative “newcomer” and is making and producing music this side of impeccable is nothing short of brilliant. And the song to hear where all of this worldly inspiration comes together so excellently is the title track itself. Melding African-like beats to Brazilian-styled horns with an underlying Latin groove, the song is the ultimate testament to what Anyu is all about. For fans of musical escapism and top-notch production and performance, Reasons is a beautiful diamond in the rough. -


Anyu was born in San Fransisco and grew up in Wisconsin but is now living in Seattle, he has been travelling a lot around the world to study different music cultures in places like Mexico, Senegal and Gambia.
He used to be in the band The First Thought that was managed by Susan Silver who married to Chris Cornell, Anyu has also signed a distribution deal with Star Search Group/Universal in Korea, Japan and China for his debut "Reasons".

This album contains 10 rhytmically and spiritually driven tracks which can be described as world music meets jazzpop with some latin vibes, you can really hear that he's been influenced by Youssou N'Dour and Santana to name 2.
Songs like "Chief Leschi", "No more than a day" and "Sympathy" is real easy to take to the heart and fans of Camel, Marc Jordan and David Gilmour should spend a moment to listen to the soundclips on myspace.


Reasons - Axent Records
Wow Wow - Anyumusic
Anyu - Bamboo Records



Anyu was born in San Francisco, CA, and his attraction to music began early. A few years after the boy found himself intrigued by a friend’s snare drum, he unearthed a Sequential Circuits Synthesizer in a junior high school practice room. Thereafter, he often stayed behind after classes to explore its possibilities. Meanwhile, he was absorbing whatever music crossed his path. “As a kid, I traveled back and forth from San Francisco, CA to Appleton, WI for a number of years, “ he recalls, “During the long drives, we would listen to Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, Freddy Fender, The Pointer Sisters, and Johnny Cash on eight track. My older brother was a heavy rocker, complete with a black light, bongs and a vinyl record collection, so I heard Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Once I moved to Seattle in 1980, it was all Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Bob Marley.” By the time he was a teenager, Anyu was playing with “The First Thought,” a rock band managed by Susan Silver, who then was married to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audio Slave. The group became a fixture along the West Coast, opening for acts like UB-40 and Thomas Dolby, who was best known for his 1982 hit "She Blinded Me With Science.”

Already an adept drummer, Anyu studied privately with Fred Hoadley (piano), Bob Moses (drums-composition-NEC), and David Kyle (voice). He mastered advanced styles on guitar and voice but soon was looking farther afield. “My first generic European trip opened my mind to the fact that there is much more music in the world than American ‘arena rock’,” he says, “I would go to New York, San Francisco or Tijuana, Mexico to study Cuban music and some dance. I was listening to groups like Los Munequitos, Los Van Van, Daniel Ponce, Ruben Blades and Eddie Palmieri -- then I discovered West African music. I played djembe and sabar drums for percussion and dance classes and attended drumming and dance camps.” He also was drawn into the intricacies of still another tradition, “My first conga teacher, Tor Dietrichson, also plays tabla (tuned Indian drums played in pairs) and he turned me on to Indian music. I’ve since taken some classes with Dhrupad singers Falguni Mitra and the Dagar Brothers at the University Of Washington.”

Inspired to go directly to the source, Anyu began to seek out as many of his favorite musicians as possible while encountering a multitude of others. “I started traveling to Senegal and Gambia around 1994 and heard Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Mory Kante, Ismael Lo, Omar Pene, Kasse Mady Diabate, Ray Lema, Musa Ngom and many more. I later worked with (Senegalese vocal icon) Thione Seck on my first record.” To date, aside from the above destinations, he has also visited (and re-visited) France, Morocco and India. He is fluent in French and can make himself understood in Spanish, Turkish, Wolof from Senegal, and in Lingala, a Congolese lingua franca. After close friend Leif Totusek returned to Seattle, he introduced Anyu to a pair of legendary singers from the Congo, Wawali Bonane and Steve Ngondo, and Huit Kilos, one of that nation’s most esteemed guitarists, all master exponents of rumba Congolaise. Having long been attracted to the rumba groove in its many Afro-Caribbean incarnations, Anyu embarked upon yet another collaboration. “Leif had been playing with Mose Fan Fan (of Somo Somo fame) in London and Geoffrey Orema in France” he says, “He, Wawa, Steve and I have been working together ever since.”

Tor Dietrichson, Leif Totusek, Wawali Bonane and Steve Ngondo are all featured on Anyu’s latest album, “Reasons” (Axent Records -- 2007). The ten tracks speak of a lifetime of meetings and partings, of growing and doubling back. Impassioned power ballads erupt out of ultra-modern chill, as horns and strings spar with chiming guitars over inexorable drums, tribal percussion and moody synths. Although almost entirely composed by Anyu with occasional but valuable input from Leif and project producer Jonathan Plum, the tunes were nonetheless a group effort. “It’s not just me who assembled the sound,” Anyu asserts, “I recorded the songs over and over with many different musicians until I got what I was searching for. It’s not the note itself that interests me, it’s the sound of the note.” The lyrics speak of relationships both perilous and joyful, alienation, rebellion, the bitterness of Native American history and being at home far from home. Asked, in retrospect, which tracks are especial stand-outs for him, Anyu confides, “’Lucky Ones’ is nice because you can hear each instrument so clearly, with good background vocals in the chorus. ‘Sasha’ is precious to me; it’s about my daughter and I enjoy the string arrangement by Eyvind Kang. The chord changes are pleasing to my ears on ‘Sasha,’ also on ‘New World.’ ‘Reasons’ is fun to play live; certain songs on the record translate differently in that setting. For example ‘Sympathy’ is really rocking with the live band, where