L. Subramaniam

Global Fusion

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Indian violinist L. Subramaniam states in this album's liner notes that "the philosophy of 'global fusion' is 'promoting peace and harmony through music.'" That kind of talk should raise alarm bells for anyone who has paid money for the disc -- the problem being that, wonderful as peace and harmony are, they can be promoted very effectively in the context of terrible music, and often have been. As long as they are the primary concern of a musician, you can bet the rent that the musician in question will pay more attention to the message than the music. There's nothing morally wrong with that, of course. In fact, it's morally commendable, but that doesn't mean you're going to want to listen. However, L. Subramaniam has walked the tightrope safely in this case, and has made an album that is not only a heartwarming showcase of cultural diversity (involving, as it does, everything from Indonesian choral chanting to didgeridoo, koto, and Spanish guitar), but one that also provides consistently compelling music. Highlights include the slow, stark, and beautiful "Lost Love" (a duet between Subramaniam's violin and the koto of Miya Masaoka) and the even better "Gipsy Trail," featuring guitarist Jorge Struntz, singer Kavita Krishnamurti, and a full ensemble of classically trained Indian players. Best of all is "Blue Lotus," on which Subramaniam duets with Jie Bing Chen. Chen's erhu echoes Subramaniam's violin in eerily lovely imitation. Highly recommended.

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