Mickey Hart

Planet Drum

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Planet Drum is the brainchild of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, whose research into world drum styles has yielded some interesting and important recordings. On this one, he brings together artists from cultures as diverse as India, Brazil, and Nigeria. The idea was for everyone to simply get together, start playing, and see what would happen. What happened, predictably, was a wonderful learning and bonding experience for the drummers and a recording that is, overall, pretty boring for those who weren't a part of it. Some of the album's best moments feature singer Flora Purim ("Light Over Shadow," "Lost River"); another is an exciting program piece called "The Hunt." "Temple Caves," a fragile and lovely piece that defines more space than it fills, is another high point. But most of the album consists of repetitive, monochromatic jams that start out pleasant and lulling and quickly become merely annoying. Having the Indian percussionist "Vikku" Vinayakram play alongside Babatunde Olatunji may make for a heartwarming sociopolitical statement, but the resulting music doesn't really go anywhere or do anything. Recommended only to the most uncritical panculturalists.

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