Planet Soup is billed as "a stirring collection of cross-cultural collaborations and musical hybrids." It provides exactly what it promises in the billing. The entire premise of this three-CD set is to showcase some of the most unexpected combinations of world music. As with nearly any such themed compilation, this opens the door for both wonderful items, as well as tracks that perhaps should have been left off. Highlights in the set, though, are many. Paul Peña and Kongar-ol Ondar collaborated to make a rousing Bo Diddley blues beat coupled with Tuvan throat singing on "The Ballad of Cher Shimjer (What You Talkin' About?)" Ray Lema, a keyboard player from Zaire, collaborated with Ensemble Pirin, a Bulgarian women's choir on "Forest Orchestra." Bustan Abraham is a mixed group of Jews and Arabs from Israel that collaborated on "Gypsy Soul." Varttina, a Finnish pop group, blew by "Katariina." Al Tall and Muluk El Hwa combined to mix flamenco guitars with Gnawa traditionals on "Absencia-La Jove Negra." Jim Bowie combined with Badal Roy to play traditional Indian classical music in "Rinpoche's Rag," on a banjo. Mynta combined Swedish traditionals and Indian traditionals on "Nandu's Dance." The list goes on and on. There are multiple instances of Gambian kora players combining with everyone, from flamenco to Celtic. Also, the Celtic sounds are mixed with every possible item. There are many examples of what is now known as worldbeat, which is something of a cross-cultural fusion, mixed with heavy synthesizer usage. Everyone with any interest whatsoever in world music should definitely check this compilation out. Some of the tracks should be skipped over almost immediately, but they should still be given a chance, as this set proves that good things can come from the unexpected.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg