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Tracklist: 1. Sinsimay Panima 6:05 2. Forest Frolic 4:29 3. I Mett Her In the Medowe 5:31 4. Ocean of Love 5:26 5. Ochun 3:32 6. Semara 4:27 7. Alap 1:48 8. El Zaffa 4:26 9. Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek 5:07 10. Socha Socha 10:34 Line-up: Matthew Montfort - acoustic, electric & bass guitars Irina Mikhailova - vocals Doug McKeehan - keyboards Ustad Habib Khan - sitar Emam - tabla Ian Herman - drums Jim Hurley - violin Manose Singh - flute Moses Sedler - cello Antoine Lammam - percussion Georges Lammam - violin Patti Weiss - violin Liu Qi-Chao - Chinese flute Pedro De Jesus - percussion, vocals C. K. Ladzekpo - congas Hadley Louden - marimbas Mindia Klein - bansuri Benji Wertheimer - esraj Ian Dogole - udu
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Prolusion. "Passion Planet" is the seventh album by the World Fusion pioneers Ancient Future. According to the CD's press kit, "It is a perfect romantic gift featuring 19 world music masters telling a love story through world music about flirtation, courtship, gods of love, betrothal, seduction, and longing for the beloved".
Analysis. First off, this album clearly shows that Ancient Future's World Fusion has nothing to do with the (ambient) World music style. Stylistically, "Planet Passion" represents a real fusion of the musical forms of the various nations of Earth, which, though, is based on such structures of the composition and arrangement that we use to call Prog Fusion. Highly diverse in sound, all of the ten compositions, that are featured on the album, are filled with very tasteful and diverse arrangements created by the masterly solos and passages of each of the soloing musicians and interplay between them as well. Some of the guitar, flute, and violin solos are so fast and virtuosi that they can remind you of jazzy improvisations, though actually, all of them were thoroughly composed by the laws of the 5-tone Eastern school and traditional, classical one as well. The mixed 'construction' of all of the album's tracks, based on the two different schools of composition, makes them especially impressive. There are only two real songs on "Passion Planet" (Ochun and Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek, tracks 5 & 9), while all of the other tracks are instrumental. There are however, lots of female vocalizes on one of them - Ocean of Love (track 4). Ochun is the only song that features both male (by Pedro De Jesus) and female (by Irina Mikhailova) vocals, while on Ocean of Love and Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek Irina sings alone. On Ochun, Pedro's vocal parts remind of the traditional Afro-Cuban (not Spanish!) man's singing. Irina's parts are more melodic: these can remind one of the Afro-Cuban ritual refrains. Her beautiful voice fits nicely for the rich instrumental textures of Ocean of Love, but especially wonderful Irina sings (in Russian) on the Russian old folk song Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek. Musically, Ochun is full of African motives. Ocean of Love represents a blend of the West and East European melodic lines that develop to the accompaniment of African percussion instruments. In a Russian manner, Ne Po Pogrebu Bochonochek (It is Impossible to Squeeze So Big a Barrel In This Cellar) can be described as "there is the smell of a Russian spirit here". What is interesting is all of the other tracks (all of which are instrumental) are, on the whole, devoted to the music of the East, one way or another. Sinsimay Panima, Forest Frolic, Semara, Alap, & Socha Socha (tracks 1,2,6,7,10) are just filled with Indian, Arabic, Chinese etc., musical atmospheres. Based on the exceptionally tasteful and virtuosi solos and passages of Matthew Montfort's acoustic (scalloped fretboard!) and electric guitars, various Eastern flutes, violins, and even (kind of) the Eastern vibraphone, the arrangements of each of these compositions develop constantly. Although there are only two instruments heard on Alap (scalloped fretboard guitar and violin), the interplay between them is simply fantastic. Apart from Eastern flavours, a magnificent I Mett Her In the Medowe (track 3), consisting of virtuosi solos, passages, and interplay between three different acoustic guitars (parts of the two of which were overdubbed), has also Latin American and medieval feels. El Zaffa (track 8), which is probably the most diverse track on the album, was composed with using the 'schemes' (or laws, if you will), of the three musical schools: European Classical, Spanish, and still the same Eastern.
Conclusion. Doubtless, this album shows that the band is completely back to form, as there were elements of ambient music in the second half of their previous effort "Asian Fusion". Excellently composed and performed, "Passion Planet" sounds distinctly original and very refreshing, especially in comparison to the uninspired, often totally influenced by the creation of their idols, just repeated works of many of the contemporary performers of Neo Prog. What is more, with the release of the "Passion Planet" album, Ancient Future have once again proved that they're one of the most innovative bands of international Progressive Music movement.
EK: November 2, 2006
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