Trilok Gurtu

African Fantasy

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There are theories about the way the continents were once joined together in prehistoric times, but Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu is attempting a new connection between land masses in a musical sense with his eighth album African Fantasy, which probably should have been called "Indo-A frican Fantasy" to make things clear to potential buyers. As an Indian musician, Gurtu is steeped in the music of his homeland, with its tablas and sitars, but as a percussionist he must be fascinated by the various rhythms coming out of Africa. Here, he has indulged that interest writing music that fuses both traditions, which he plays with his usual band, but he brings in several African vocalists: Sabine Kabongo (of the European-based group Zap Mama), Esmeralda Sciascia, Angelique Kidjo, and Oumou Sangare. The results are interesting, if tentative. Maybe if Gurtu had collaborated with African musicians, especially drummers, he might have gotten more of the continent into his music. As it is, there is a surface texture, especially in the vocals, of the continent's many musics, but the core of the sound remains Indian. That still makes for striking juxtapositions, and there is some wonderful playing. But the concept of an Indian/African fusion remains a fantasy, at least in this execution of it.

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