From the Cradle of Civilization to the Age of Discovery, the worldbeat ensemble Cusco presents a dramatic, richly textured landscape commemorating ancient journeys that have changed the vision of the world. Soaring flutes, tribal drums, and an array of new and old-world instruments (simply credited as percussion) capture the romance of everything from Spanish galleons on the high seas, caravans to the Orient, and the densely percussive exotic seduction of the bazaar in "Byzantium." While most of the tunes feature a wide range of dramatic shifts-- "Conquistadores" rolls from an orchestral overture to intense percussion and tribal flutes, and "Land of the Midnight Sun" contrasts a high-toned soaring flute with dramatic synth creating low-tone choir effects -- a happy medium is struck on the opening track "Da Gama." That track is a bubbly, loping flamenco-tinged piece driven by the always welcome acoustic guitar lines of guest star Ottmar Liebert. "The Journey of Marco Polo" rolls powerfully along with a stampede of airy flutes, snappy guitars, and ominous synth footprints. The band is also kind enough to reacquaint us with the history of the world, as colorful liner notes explain the possible origins of civilization as well as some of the historic journeys that made history over the past several thousand years. Dramatic and powerful, yet easy to get into.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran
feat: Ottmar Liebert