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MP3 Riki Michele - Surround Me

Downtempo electronic pop

12 MP3 Songs
ELECTRONIC: Down Tempo, POP: with Electronic Production

Surround Me is the latest album from Riki Michele. A member of the pioneering band Adam Again, Riki is also an innovative solo artist, combining diverse musical influences and loves into a unique blend of personal and progressive creativity. Surround Me finds her building on her roots in progressive electronic music, mining fields of electro-soul, trip-hop, chill-out and ethereal pop. The album is intensely personal, and finds her collaborating with close friends and creative compatriots to deliver an honest and insightful worldview that is both celebratory and introspective.

Surround Me contains Riki’s most accomplished songwriting to date, as she delves into the emotional terrain that celebrates ("She Said (Grandma’s Words)"), wrestles ("We Take It On"), invites ("Surround Me") and explores ("Mystery In Me"). The album was produced and engineered by Julian Kindred, who also co-wrote with Riki and handled programming chores. An A-list of musical contributors participate as well, including Steve Hindalong, Tim Chandler, Marc Byrd, Drew Powell, Kevin Robinson, Kevin Hornback and James Gregory.

On top of all of the musical contributions there is always the voice. Soulful, dynamic, lilting and powerful, Riki Michele’s voice has always been an instrument of beauty.

As stunning as her voice is on record, the live arena is where Riki Michele has always captured her greatest reviews. "I love performing and communicating with crowds, and creating moods that can take you somewhere during the show. I’ll be working on several performance setups with this record, incorporating a band with some mad-scientist-genius who can add different takes to what we’ve recorded."

Born and raised in southern California, Riki began singing as early as she did talking. The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher’s family, Riki was singing in church at an early age.

At age 16, Riki joined the band Adam Again. The band’s pioneering combination of toughened college rock and dynamic funk exhilarated and confused, as most pioneering efforts do. Rarely leaving their California confines, the band managed to influence and inspire across national boundaries. Their live shows were the stuff of legend, as a solid funk groove held court for the band’s searing guitar work and often tender, heart-rending songs. Influences were felt from artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Zapp, REM, Prince, Talking Heads and Bill Withers. The band recorded five albums before ending in 2000 after the death of the band’s leader, Gene Eugene.

As Adam Again’s underground following grew, Riki decided to step out into the role of solo artist, beginning with the groundbreaking album Big, Big Town. Recorded in 1989, the album was an ahead-of-it’s-time blend of groove-based programming, acoustic-derived songs and dynamic guitar-organ interplay. The album generated outstanding reviews and began the process of innovative musical explorations. An alternating cycle of solo and band albums bring Riki to the release of Surround Me.

"This album combines all of the music I love into something I’m thrilled with and proud of," says Riki. "It’s got all of the electronic influences I love, as well as soul and a concentration on great songs that groove, as opposed to great grooves that happen to work themselves into songs." Influences are as far-flung as Kate Bush and Stevie Wonder, DJ Ian Pooley and Jane Siberry, Sade and Esthero.

Underneath it all lies the programming of Julian Kindred, a Canadian native now living and working in the U.S. Kindred’s programming mines house and dub as much as disco and funk, and lends itself to the emotional investment of the songs. The record has room to breath, alowing for the songs to play themselves out naturally. As a result, songs such as "She Said" , and the title track stretch into grooves that create scenes for the listener, while more succinct efforts such as "Treasure You" and "Forever Bright" respect the simplicity in their arrangements.

Surround Me is a giant step forward for a pioneering artist, and is sure to find admirers across all musical party lines.

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