Every once in a while an album comes along which, while never destined to change the course of musical history or cause a furore in the press, crawls softly into your heart to nestle there like a treasured teddy bear. You play it once and it's inoffensive at best. You play it twice and you begin sway as an irresistibly "warm vibe" begins to fill you. Before you know it you've played it five times in a row and have started scouring the sleevenotes for any kind of clue as to who's managed to effortlessly steal your soul. Which is where Zala Zala falls down. Unless you're a student of Belgian avant prog or know your Bangladeshi singers off by heart you'll be hard-pressed to glean much about this sly little beauty. Enlightenment was ever a hard road to travel.

Pierre Vervloesem, as you all no doubt know, is a Belgian guitarist of some note (probably an E flat, heh heh) whose previous work with prog jazz noiseniks X-Legged Sally was always a little more challenging than the stuff on offer here. Lifted by a rhythm section that provides what can only be described as a kind of world-dub fusion, Baroi's astoundingly expressive vocals and Vervloesm's genre-straddling guitar are coaxed to ecstatic heights. It matters not one jot that vocals are delivered in Baroi's native tongue. The emotional impact is conveyed by context and dynamic, which veers from the lovelorn plea of "Tor Hashite (Will Sing In Melody)" with its stately pace and Fripp-like sustain, to the optimistic electronic ethno-funk of "Aei Kotha (My Last Words)". While remaining true to its Asian roots this album never strays too far from a contemporary breakbeat or pulsing dancefloor vibe, giving it a perfect balance between east and west that welcomes all listeners. You too, dear listener, will come to love it as a friend.

Chris Jones (2007-06-21) BBC-World music review,

An enjoyable listening experience that is different from most of what you hear today.

Henry Schneider, Vital weekly,

Amongst the vast assortment of music we are given to review, along comes an unusual release by singer / songwriter, John Litton BAROI who is ably assisted by Pierre VERVLOESEM who arranged and produced this collection of 9 songs as well as adding guitar, bass and programming. Additional keyboards and drumming are found on a few extra tracks.

Percussion features predominantly with some great tabla playing on 5 tracks together with plenty of tribal / shamanic type of chanting without it falling victim to a lot of the more sedate New Age cheese that proliferates that genre’s hit parade if such a thing existed. John’s input into this album includes some very emotional vocals, keyboards, harmonium and acoustic guitar.

To explain exactly what is going on with this album is a bit difficult in that it embraces so many diverse styles of music and draws upon a myriad of ethnic sounds, instruments and vocalizations that one can hear influences from all around the planet. If one were to describe an overall sound, you would need to blend some DEEP FOREST, PREM JOSHUA, JADE WARRIOR due to the occasional fuzz guitar together with some ethnic influences that Phil Thornton was able to elicit when playing with Hossam Ramzy on their “Immortal Egypt” album from 1998.

The Middle Eastern influences on this release are certainly highly evident as there are very overt references to that fact on the short descriptor which is added alongside each track’s title.

The songs are generally upbeat and fairly open in expounding their message of love, peace, harmony and respect for God and all the worlds’ creatures far and wide. Although this is not really my cup of tea, there can be no denying the musical integrity of the players as their abilities, while certainly not pyrotechnic, are more than adequate.


This is a great album. I only hope I can persuade you to try it out.

When I play this CD on my computer system at work, the bass that emanates from the subwoofer on "Teer Nai Tore" just slays me. Then the Arabic style vocals come in and I start smiling and grooving.

BAROI and VERVLOESEM have created a very unique album. I won't call it "worldbeat" - that would cheapen it in my mind.

Zala Zala' is part Bangladeshi folksongs which are very catchy and fun. Add a dance beat; this could easely be pulsating loudly in a club. And finally add some wicked guitar playing.

Byrne and Eno touched upon this concept with "My life in the bush of ghosts" and parts of Byrne's "Catherine Wheel" did as well.

But BAROI pushes it further by making it more straightforward, on the surface you find instantly likeable pop music, but just below the surface is Pierre VERVLOESEM.

He adds these wicked electronics; like Fripp armed with a Gizmo. The guitar refrain on "Pothiker Vhari Bozha" expands so far it fills your head. His bursts of sustained guitar, the general mayhem he creates. Then there is bass playing... shades of Bill MacCormick here.

It is the contrast of styles that make this album so damn good; funk slap bass, Indian vocals and all kinds of guitar and electronics, as if mixed by The PROPELLERHEADS.

There is truly something for everyone here. Highly recommended.


The songs are poetic and the atmosphere where John Litton Baroi takes us is soft and sensual. Phrases float and fly, painting the décor of their native region.

Carbon 7,